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Coronavirus: Parents of special needs children 'skip meals'

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Mia has chronic lung disease, global developmental delay and autism
The parents of a girl with special needs say they are having to skip meals to make ends meet amid lockdown.Tristan Howdle, from Harrogate, was made redundant as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and his wife, a carer, is working fewer hours. Charity Family Fund said many families of disabled children - including the Howdles with daughter Mia, 7 - struggle with food and energy costs. Lockdown measures also mean they are unable to access the support they need. More stories from around Yorkshire
The charity has spoken out as the government announces
Tristan Howdle said the family are struggling financially due to pressures brought on by the lockdown
The situation has also forced Mrs Howdle to reduce her working hours to avoid any direct work with people due to the infection risks. She has also given up her usual night shifts, leaving her wages about ?500 a month lower than normal."It's the total effect of everything we're missing which is hard for us, all her hospital appointments, all the support she receives at school, it's just incredibly hard on Mia," said Mr Howdle. He added he and his wife are not eating properly to be able to afford to give Mia the food she needs. "You will eat toast or something, just so there is sustenance, but we won't go with full meals all the time, we are just eating what we can," he continued"In terms of costs, we're spending more than we ever have before on food. Autism means that [Mia] will only touch and eat very specific brands of foods."Some of those brands are not cheap but she will not eat other brands. It's a specific part of that condition that anyone who understands autism will know." Family Fund, based in York, said a survey it commissioned showed more than half of families of children with special needs are in a similar position.
Mia was born prematurely and weighed just 1lb 8oz
A quarter of the parents surveyed said they had missed meals in the past two weeks because of reduced income.It found that while the situation has improved, 26% of families still report having to go without toiletries, 25% without hygiene products and 13% without medicines.Children and families minister Vicky Ford, said: "I know that these unprecedented times may put additional pressure on families, particularly those whose children have the most complex needs, and these parents deserve some extra help to loo after and educate them at home."Cheryl Ward, of Family Fund, welcomed the funding and said it would make an "incredible difference" to ease some of the pressures these families face.
LOCKDOWN UPDATE: What's changing, where?
SCHOOLS: When will children be returning?
EXERCISE: What are the guidelines on getting out?
THE R NUMBER: What it means and why it matters
LOOK-UP TOOL: How many cases in your area?
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Family
Coronavirus lockdown measures
Coronavirus pandemic
Special needs
York
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