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Forgotten parents;FE Focus

Carol Raphael, a 42-year-old single mother, went back to college last autumn - 15 years after stopping work as a nurse. She enrolled on an access course and has got a place at the University of East London to read psychology. But having supported herself and four children on income support of pound;117 a week for the past six months, she is "in two minds" about whether to take up the place.

"Fares and buying books and meals have taken a chunk out of my housekeeping and I had to get a loan from income support just to make ends meet.

"I am trying to do something with my life so that I can come off income support and get some dignity back.

"Income support is a nightmare - you have to do so many forms and they are getting more and more difficult. I would love to say to them 'here's your book back'."

Her work as a volunteer for Victim Support and the experience of dependence on prescribed steroids, on and off, for the past 10 years have given her ideas she would like to pursue in her research.

She gave up work after her second child was born and nursed her husband as he was dying from cancer. But she says: "I'm not a unique story. " Welfare to work is a slog for people like Carol. "They have forgotten about adults with kids. If Tony Blair wants us off income support he has got to give us some encouragement or incentive."

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