As the cost of living soars, I am wondering what I can do to help myself and others caught in this web.
I am not hopeful in this summer whether I can afford a short break in UK or not. Usually, take a short break within the UK with my children for few days. My children like to go to the countryside next to seaside and stay nearby for few days to enjoy the surroundings and local community. But this time due to lack of saving I will not be afford to go for this type of break but can pass time with them to local events which mostly are free to participate.
Summer holidays are here. I am trying to look forward to spending time with my children. Its an opportunity to get the children involved in helping in community projects and taking part in events.
This allows them to experience a unity at a time of difficulty for all.
We will be visiting our community kitchen, donating more to food banks as well as shopping in food banks and also having days of cutting back on treats after school.
What a week. I had my American family over and it did nothing but rain after the heat wave a few weeks ago. It was so nice to see them all but I had to watch my money which was embarrassing and I felt bad I couldn’t treat them. I did however do free stuff with them like go to an Art gallery and walk around the Titanic. I also took them on a walking tour of the murals on both sides of the community and they loved it and they didn’t have to pay for a tour as I knew so much about the murals as I grew up in the Belfast troubles. It’s the little things in life and I’m glad they had a fun day which didn’t cost any money but was precious as we all spent time together.
One of the often overlooked aspect of poverty, relative to the UK I mean as that's my area of experience, is the home. Council houses are great for not being on the street, and safer by far than private renting, but so hard to get into. I've moved home, the floors cos over £600 quid and that is an absolute steal! And I'm lucky. I took out a loan to pay for them and other furniture items cos my council consider a fridge freezer, washer, sofa, bed and either wardrobe or drawers, essential, the rest of the stuff needed is up to me.
I'm also super lucky that I had a housing support worker from a local charity who could advocate for me and make sure I got the washer which wasn't guaranteed as new home is within walking distance, for a person without mobility issues, of a laundrette. She fought for me and I got granted a washer. She also sorted new bills out for me and saved me the stress that is dealing with energy providers while stressed by moving. She got that sorted and set up for me, as well and updating my benefits and council tax. I've had more support from her in one week than I got for two years with the last supposed support service I had access too. It's a joke.
The Scottish Government, provided all 32 Scottish Councils with a Cost Of Living fund at end of 2022.
I saw via social media that other Scottish Councils were dispensing £150 gift cards to low income households who meet the criteria of being in receipt of housing benefit. There was anger from both those who received, as the card could only be used in certain retail outlets and cafes, not budget supermarkets; and others who claimed their taxes paid for "wasters and drug abusers" to get another entitlement.
Nothing was mentioned in social media or Internet searches of Aberdeenshire Council having this fund.
I contacted all local councillors, of which one replied (SNP). Yes the council had the fund, which the councillor claims she was unaware of until I contacted her. She said she would look into how it was to be dispensed. It took 3 months and 2 delays for the council to post out 12,000 gift cards with the value of £100 to low income households.
The shops that accepted the card were mostly tourist gift shops, although a budget chemist and small supermarket in the area accepted it.
The next issue was, these shops, could not yet accept the gift cards due to the council had not connected the online payment program yet.
This caused stress and embarrassment to many who filled their trolley with groceries and had to put them back on shelves.
No councillor can justify why every other council dispensed £150 per household whilst they dispensed £100. 12,000 x £50 = £600,000.
Where has the rest of the fund gone to?
This is the same Conservative led council that cannot account for £5.2 million spending to the auditors.
The same Conservative led council who the local community are asking how a promised £1.4 million extension and refurbishment of a leisure centre, tuned into a £300,000 disabled toilet in the run down leisure centre with damp growing on the walls from the swimming pool in it.
Universal Basic Income: sounds like lazy thinking but really, you want people to work and be productive and get shit done, give them enough money that they can go "hmm, nice and relaxed, took time to care for my needs. Now I'm kinda bored, I know I'll go see what jobs are available, I get get myself treats with the extra cash and help the economy and help my community".
Real access to support - more funding to mental health services and social care services and charities that support families. Free breakfast clubs and after school clubs. Childcare support and/or legal protections in work for parents who need to be more flexible around school holidays. And free education for life, that means primary through to university through to additional learning or career changing in adulthood. The workplace would be far more productive this way and fewer barriers to entry.
Oh and seriously, ban 0-hour contracts, if you can't afford to properly employ workers with the proper legal protections and duties then don't have workers, it's not that hard. End exploitation.
Crazy few days. After the poetry session with Lisa Lindow I decided to use the poem I wrote after being super inspired to help and perhaps heal others through my last trauma pain. I linked in with a local mental health group and it was such a success: I read it in front of others - lay people and professional mental health and meditation people and perhaps this is my niche and I’ve found myself/ using my past pain and the expression ‘nothing ever happens in vain’ to support other people going through similar situations.
Money is tight but demand of children/society is the same. So lucky to have community centre or Changing Realities who include us without a price to pay.
I really enjoy being part of Changing Realities, and think the team do their best to make participant involvement as democratic as possible.
Changing Realities is also an excellent opportunity for me to raise issues concerning being on UC without impunity because when I'm in Zoom meetings with other participants, who are people from all over the country, with similar views to me, I don't feel as though I'm fighting the battle all alone anymore.
The only thing I can't quite understand is how quickly the time on the project is going!
Interesting and a great lot of people and a community who also want change
Facing homelessness and no set date which means I can't even plan. Adult social services rendered me for housing support services, they're going to help me find and maintain a tenancy. Agencies see my mental health diagnosis and think I'm high risk or need high intensity support and I really don't. My CPN has my back but I hate that others control my life, where I live, when I can live independently or not, it's unfair and really drags one down. Mental health services are so poorly funded and so poorly understood that service users in high need are left without and those who function well but need occasion support, such as myself, are vilified.
But my PIP got me membership to local leisure centre so now, so long as I can afford bus fare, I can go swimming whenever I want and have started some low intensity fitness classes. Went to first one today, I was so nervous, had a panic attack, but everyone was so friendly and kind I stuck it out. People seem to understand mental health far better than professionals do. It's weird.
I meant to answer last week's big question, how do I find joy with limit income. I've extremely lucky, like super lucky. Because I have social services I'm able to access discounts not available to everyone, so I can go to the threatre occasionally (our towns local threatre is heavily subsidised and offered additional discounts for vulnerable families which opens so many wonderful experiences), our local leasure center is also heavily subsidised, meaning my PIP now covers a membership for swimming and fitness classes, including dancing and other low intensity activities. Which I access when I can afford the buses, the £2 bus cap has helped alot this year. I'm also lucky that our town has various free or low cost charity arts n crafts groups, lots of churches put on free events and the council put on almost monthly (or weekly in the warmer months) events for the community (definitely happy with how my council taxes are being used here) more directly taylored support, such as mind, is harder to access but so much around town that I don't feel like I'm lacking. Our town was built on Victorian Quaker values and it shows, the parks are gorgeous and the town is thriving even with businesses struggling. It helps alot to feel like you live in a thriving area even if it's got struggles, but it's a comfort that every struggling area within this council has its own community centre that gets not enough but better than you'd expect for the hardships funding for its community. These things bring me joy, taking part in the community, trying new things, seeing things from other cultural perspectives. like our town not only accepts LGBT families but celebrates them, minorities are rarer, it's a very white area, however the council still do events for different cultures, it's a lot of fun living here. and I'm extremely fortunate .Plus all the resources I need are here, mental health services are the best in this country, social services are easier to access and get at sign posting. but my favourite thing that brings me so much joy and costs nothing, the free courses on offer for adults in the town, when I am finally well enough to work again I'll already have a folder full of certificates to help give me an edge while also socialising and learning more about myself and my skills. so my town and what the council here do with the taxes bring me joy while I may struggle, it helps to know there is help somewhere in town if I need it.