Letter: Workfare: Labour's knee-jerk response; jobs policy; family in limbo

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Sir: Frank Field (3 February) said it all. We unemployed families have so little hope, our children even less. Like his constituent, everything we have is sold off, apart from the basics, and we exist in a kind of grey limbo, never being able to take part in anything. Television is our main family entertainment, although we do read books and play board games.

Our children are coping extremely well, being bright, attending a good local school and getting a great deal of support from us. But our most frequent answer to their requests is 'sorry, we just can't afford it'. We say 'no' to trips out for the day, visits to cinemas and theatres, meals out, visits to exhibitions and museums. They are fed, they are clothed and they are educated, but surely they deserve more than the basic minimum. They have to deal with parents who are constantly trying to reassure themselves that they are worthwhile and valuable people, so that they can pass this message on to their children. It can be a very depressing atmosphere.

Unfortunately, this country is run by people who are employed and who have an income more than adequate for their basic needs. How can they understand what it feels like to be bereft?

Yours sincerely,


London, N20

4 February