It’s a No-Money Day Blog Tour – insight from the author and illustrator, Kate Milner
Why I wrote “It’s A No Money Day”
I could begin with lots of statistics showing how many children in the UK live in poverty; I could go on to explain that most families in poverty have at least one parent working and I could add that the situation is getting worse as the price of essentials goes up and wages fail to keep pace.I could start there but better, perhaps, to start by talking about my own, thankfully limited, experience of poverty. Sometime around the millennium my then-husband decided he wanted a divorce. At that time I was mother to two little girls and I had an interesting, relatively well paid part-time job. He expected to be quite generous financially but then he lost his job. Suddenly I was faced with the prospect of supporting myself and my two daughters on my wages. Of course my career had taken a hit when I had had children so now my earnings didn’t even cover the mortgage. I remember very clearly the moment when I realised that I could not afford to pay for food and heat the house, I would have to choose one or the other.I was lucky, I had a lot of generous support and the situation did not last for long, but I am also clear that this sudden descent into poverty as a single parent was not my fault. I was not especially feckless, or bad at budgeting; it was just that I had fallen victim to one of the many insecurities that can upset family life. The mother in It’s A No Money Day is like me at that time, and millions of other single parents: she works hard, she loves her child and she does the best she can.
The media in this country represent poor families as the authors of their own misfortune: probably addicted to drink or drugs, flushing away their benefits on gambling, takeaways and fags. Perhaps it’s more comfortable for the rest of us that way; easier to live with the idea that so many of our fellow citizens are struggling if we can believe that they are morally inferior and deserving of their fate. But what if you are a child of such a family? How does that feel? You see your parents struggle and work hard, skrimp, save and mend; at the same time you are learning that your poverty is your own fault, shameful and wrong.
The little girl in It’s A No-Money Day is like most children of her age: curious, positive and outgoing. She does not see her own life as a tragedy, or her future as completely bleak. She is used to the idea of finding fun that doesn’t cost anything. She is also used to visiting the food bank; in fact she enjoys the free biscuits, the chance to do some drawing and the opportunity to talk, at great length, to the volunteers. Her mother, of course, does not enjoy it so much.
I wrote the book because I wanted all children to understand what a food bank is and why it is necessary. Perhaps the next time they notice a donations bin in a supermarket they’ll persuade their parents to put something in? I also hope that children from poor families will see themselves fairly represented.
How many children currently live in poverty in Britain? Over 4 million, or one-in-three. That’s equivalent to nine children in every school class.
About the Author
“When not fighting tigers I spend my time drawing pictures and writing stories to amuse children.
I used to study illustration at Central St Martin’s, and now I am a student on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin. My work has been published in magazines concerned with Housing, Law and Business; and my illustrations and prints have been shown in London galleries and national touring exhibitions.
Libraries are a passion, especially children in libraries. At my local I’ve been involved with every kind of activity from Storytime for toddlers to teen reading groups.
There’s nothing like opening a new book, a new packet of biscuits and gluing a bit of glitter.”