Welcome to the margins. I’d hoped never to see you here – and I see many more arriving behind you.
With vulnerable people still told to stay indoors for their protection, many are feeling worried about exactly which category they fall into. I’ve witnessed many people performing extravagant mental gymnastics to reassure themselves that guidelines don’t apply to ‘people like them’. Before lockdown began on March 23, many people saw themselves as capable adults like any others, not as ‘vulnerable’. But then the rules changed.
That is something those of us on the margins know a lot about. I realise that back in March many people may not have known we existed, those of us who are marginalised due to systemic and structural inequities. Or perhaps we were abstract, a statistic you’d read about, a sad story that did not quite make the headlines. Now you may have found yourself corralled with us. The disabled, poor, marginalised, immigrants are all deemed disposable – or at least that is how it feels. The social safety net for those of us on the margins is astonishingly thin and difficult to locate, as nearly 500,000 people who have applied for universal credit in the wake of Covid-19 will now be experiencing.