From Gemma ONeill.
I WRITE in response to Claire Fernandes’ letter (JEP, 21 February). After reading the letter it appeared to me that Claire Fernandes is married, therefore, I would just like to say that there is no comparison to Mrs Fernandes’ circumstances and those of Keely Hegarty.
Mrs Fernandes is a married women and has a husband supporting her, which is a totally different situation to that of a single mother. She also has two children as opposed to one. If Mrs Fernandes and her husband have decided it benefits them if she does not work instead of paying two nursery places then that is fair enough. I’m sure Miss Hegarty was not making assumptions about mothers not working when they have a partner supporting them.
I chose not to work when I had my daughter, and when I did go back to work when she was two, I had what can only be described as a blessing in the form of welfare, made available to me from the parish. This had a massive impact on my returning to work, it being worth my while. The parish were always fair, and willing to help if you were willing to help yourself.
But now that income support has come into place it seems a lot of single mothers who work are not benefiting. You cannot categorise people and say you earn x amount of pounds therefore you fall into that category. Yes, you may earn that amount, say for example the same as Joe Bloggs, but his rent is half the price of mine, his heating may be included in his rent, but mine isn’t, therefore, I pay three times as much electricity as him.
Income Support is very black and white. It may work for some but not others and there is no kindness, compassion, or perhaps understanding, as there is with parish welfare. It’s very impersonal. We are all different individuals, in different situations, and cannot be put in to categories.
All I can say is, well done to Miss Hegarty. She can hold her head high. She may not have the support of this Island’s government, but she can keep her own dignity and self respect intact.
E9 Les Mielles Close,