Meryem moved to London from Turkey when she was 11 years old. She moved to Lambeth nine years ago, choosing to live in the area because her youngest children’s father lived there.
Meryem’s own childhood was difficult and as a result, she wants her children to have everything she did not have. She dotes on them and tries to give them whatever they want so that they are happy. This means she spends a lot of money buying the latest toys for her youngest children. To pay for everything she often uses store credit and payday loans, as well as borrowing money from her mother.
She is increasingly worried about her son’s weight. A couple of years ago he stopped eating the meals she prepared at home and instead started raiding the fridge in the middle of the night. Meryem has since put a lock on the kitchen door. However, the medication she takes (she suffers from anxiety and depression) means she often falls asleep in the evening and sometimes forgets to lock the kitchen. In the morning, Mereym finds her son has eaten multiple packets of biscuits, yogurts and crisps.
However, weight is not the thing she worries about most when it comes to her son. She is more concerned about his emotional development and the fact that he is easily led by others. She worries that he’ll fall into the wrong crowd at school. As a result, she encourages him to stay at home and play on his PlayStation, buying him the latest games to keep him happy and safe.
Her eldest daughter goes to a secondary school close to the family home. She doesn’t like the school food and says that the portions are tiny. Because the school does not allow pupils to leave the school during lunchtime, she’ll text her mum asking her to bring her food. Meryem will go to the Greggs counter at the petrol station around the corner and buy a sausage roll to drop off to her daughter at school. Her daughter often buys chicken and chips for £1.70 after school from Tennessee Fried Chicken, an outlet that is popular with school children not only because it is cheap but because it also appears in the music videos produced by the local gang/music group Harlem Spartans.
Planning meals on a £20 budgetLela's family
A shared approach to healthy eatingGreg and Jackie's family
Principles for tackling child obesityRead more