`No idea what the bairns will get for tea'

SHARON THOMSON, a single mother heading back to her council flat last night, confessed she had "no idea" what she and her three children were going to have for tea.

Maybe it would be a fish supper or whatever she could find with some careful late shopping: "You have to vary what shops you go to to get the cheap things," she said. Without a car, it meant walking miles with a pushchair. Her children looked well fed and cheerful but Ms Thomson, 33 had no doubt malnutrition was a big problem on the Craigmillar estate, Edinburgh.

Though only a couple of miles from the site for Scotland's first parliament by Holyrood Palace and surrounded by some of the most expensive housing in Scotland, Craigmillar, with its mainly pre-war tenement flats, is a sink of poverty. Steel shutters were being slammed down on the few shops that remained open.

Ms Thomson gets pounds 93 a week income support, including pounds 20 sickness benefit - "I get panic attacks and depression" - and pounds 27 housing benefit. It is not enough, she says, to pay for gas and electricity as well as feeding and clothing baby Chantelle, one, and her two other girls.

Her eldest, Corrina, 12, has reached the age where expensive labels matter in the playground: "She won't wear anything that she thinks will get others taking the mickey."

Harder, though, is when Ms Thomson can only give Corrina and eight-year- old Nicole a packet of crisps or sweets for their "play piece" at school when friends will be having lunch at the chip shop.

"I scrimp and scrape and I have to borrow money by the end of the week just to get me by." Somehow she manages. "There's a lot of bairns go to school without breakfast or without their play piece or anything like that."

Lisa, 19, is bringing up Declan, 12 weeks, on pounds 70 a week while studying accountancy at a further education college on the opposite side of Edinburgh, a 15-mile round trip by bus. "I don't starve or anything, but it's hard until I have finished my degree," she said with the optimism of a young person determined to break out of the Craigmillar poverty trap.

"I get free milk for the wee one but feeding us both is probably going to get more difficult when he gets on to solids." Lisa expected her tea would come from the chippie.

Jacqueline Peddison, pulling down the shutters on the chemist's shop where she works, said malnutrition was common on the estate. Either young mothers had not got enough money or it was going on drugs.

"The school dinner ladies will tell you," she said. "They see the kids who come up for three helpings. It looks greedy, but it's not greedy, it's just they're awfully hungry."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Ashdown Group: Senior .Net Developer - Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A long-established, technology rich ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Project Manager

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This growing digital marketing ...

Recruitment Genius: Electrical Quality Supervisor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Midland's leading Solar Panels provi...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable