Thinking about opportunities, especially work related, which require photographic ID. I didn't have any, for years. Passport and provisional driving licence went out of date, at times when I couldn't afford new ones... and the list of "acceptedly" employed referees for a passport... I'm poor!!! All my friends are poor. I don't know anyone with posh jobs like those!! Imagine if schools could make sure that every pupil aged 16 got a passport - surely that would help with employment in the future?!
Council Houses are such a mixed bag. Like as far as housing options go, council is the safest and cheapest generally, there's better tenancy security and free repairs. But the quality of said housing, the damp I have in my new place, the mould that keeps coming back no matter how often I scrub it off. The electric shower is older than I am and many of my neighbours report complaints with theirs, including one who said hers electrocuted her! Which was when council finally replaced it. My toilet leaks, my shower sometimes randomly doesn't work and the damp (all council say about the damp is that I should wash the mould away with mould killer, like duh, and I can paint it myself if I want to, but I'm physically unable to do so, plus it's their responsibility not mine) is only a matter of time 'til it affects my asthma. But it's still better than the private market, so councils can get away with not giving us safe homes cos what else can we do about it but make the best.
I've got a friend who therorises that councils deliberately want low level support to "undesirable persons" so we can die quicker and they don't have to pay our benefits anymore. Some days I can really see what she means.
I'm also having to do my own research and data collection, which is exhausting and will cost me quite a bit when I go to the library next week to print it off, cos the NHS mental health services don't want to acknowledge my diagnosis (they say that they don't like to give people labels but that's bull, what they don't want is liability) but I can't access the right services for my care needs because they keep saying one thing and doing another. So I'm having to fight for the care needs I need. It's so depressing, makes me feel unworthy of basic care support needs.
On a bright note, a friend gifted me a disabled toilet key and it's so helpful, made a huge difference. It's often the little things that make a big difference.
Hi, I just wanted to share a lovely story about how it feels to be supported, and, what happens when you are given a break and the money to enjoy that break.
We have just returned from a week away at a friend's caravan in Wales.
The weather was mostly fantastic, that made such a difference! That, and the money my friend also gave us to go away with. It changed everything so noticeably that I had to share it here.
We set off after some really difficult days of unexpected expense, pet illness and an issue with my car that cost me more than it should have done. I really do struggle to work out why people overcharge for services. It seems where you don’t understand the workings of something there is always room for tradespeople to overcharge you after scaring you half to death about what will happen if you don’t pay them to fix it! Anyway, that’s another story!
Our break began with a very easy drive to the caravan and a day of torrential rain which almost led to us returning home. My son has additional needs which impact any transition if it is difficult or happy, so handling that first, we then managed to smooth things out and begin one of the best holidays we have ever had!
Not having to worry about money meant that we could do more or less what we wanted! That meant I wasn’t uptight and worried for the whole time, it was an astonishing difference! So much that my son even noticed it.
We walked on the beach daily, we went to the market, we bought the food we wanted, we laughed we hugged and we snuggled down watching tv and spending unfettered time together.
He played out with friends and was an unworried child for the week.
We are so so lucky to have the friends we do, without whom we really would be totally isolated. Not having supportive family has been exhausting and led to some very low times.
I can’t say that everything is fixed because of the break, but I can say that my son and my relationship was given space and it was so fulfilling. I feel rested, positive and as though I can face life with less stress for a bit.
I’m grateful, on every level, and especially uplifted because my boy and I got to experience what life is like when you don’t have to worry about money all of the time. It was beautiful and it made me realise just how impactful it is living hand to mouth with a child.
I'm lucky enough that one of my daughters is going off to her big sisters for four days through the holidays. So that not only saves me a bit of money because she's not around, but it also keeps her entertained for a little while. We have a holiday booked to go away for two weeks, which I could only afford because my eldest two daughters have chipped in and helped pay for the holiday, so we're kind of optimistically looking forward to it. We've got lots of free events planned and free museums and free galleries to visit just to keep my youngest busy. We also received a 90 pound voucher to buy her lunch during the school holiday as she's on free school meals.
The summer holidays can be costly. There’s additional worry about finances and the added pressure of buying school uniform. We will at least receive food vouchers from the council, which will help to alleviate the increased food costs. This year, I can only take two weeks off work. Being a solo parent with no funds to cover the cost of summer camps means I am very much reliant on the children’s grandparents and the kindness of family friends for childcare. This year we are fortunate enough to be spending a week in Cornwall, in a cottage with friends. We will be catering for ourselves and we will have to find inexpensive things to do, such as walks and exploring the coastline. It’s been some time since we’ve been away, the children really do deserve a proper holiday.
Back to reality! I have just had a wonderful 2 days with researchers and participants of the project in London for the lobby day. I didn't have a care in the world and felt I was truly among friends. It really did not feel that I was meeting people for the first time. When I returned home, it seemed to come to a sudden end, bills on the doormat, a lack of food in the fridge and no milk for a nice cup of tea. I am so grateful to be able to be a part of this magnificent project, when I look back now I feel joining this project was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Never before have I sat in a lovely cafe as an adult making zines, it looked a bit like the corner of a nursery with a table full of paper scraps, glue sticks, scissors and pens, but not a child in sight. How wonderful this felt and gave inspiration. The project has helped me build my confidence, realise that I am not the only single parent that is facing these types of problems, worries and difficulties, also it has had a huge effect on the lives of my daughter and myself both mentally and physically. Keep up the good work all in fighting for change. I look forward to working with you all in the future and hopefully meeting you all again soon.
It’s been a tough few months here, financially, I’ve been so lucky, I am blessed with a great friend who supported me to be able to move house.
I have a tiny budget to do a lot of work and am trying to find support with some things, which isn’t easy. People think if you have a mortgage, it’s your own home and so why should you get support.
So you struggle, and it isn’t easy at all.
I do feel more empowered when I’m able to sort out my finance, but, with living on social security payments largely, I worry constantly and I check my journal when it’s close to the time of payment, just in case they’re taking something out or putting something in. It feels a bit sad really!
I feel like some people think they have the right to judge what I buy and how I spend the support money. I feel wasteful and think; ‘you don’t need that’, or ‘that’s a waste of money’. Could be anything from moisturiser to nice bread.
In particular at the moment, my internal dialogue when I’m shopping is really unkind and miserly. It’s so expensive!! So even the things I might previously have been able to justify are no longer an option.
It’s isn’t the worst off I have been, but I’m so afraid of the financial carnage of no support with energy costs and the cost just to live. When that is gone, what then? So I have to be extra careful… and I was already quite careful with what we had…
Not many new clothes, shoes needed but need to afford them, no trips out to anywhere paying, no holidays… there’s only so much imagination you have when you’re exhausted from just surviving…
Sometimes, people say that you can have adventures even with no money… I used to agree, but when that no money time extends so far into the future, there is just not enough imagination to make poverty into a Wes Anderson film anymore…
I claim housing support through Universal Credit. My rent is £700 a month in which I get £485 towards my rent through universal credit.
I did find this easy to set up. Unfortunately I didn’t realise I’d be entitled to Universal Credit as I didn’t know much about it. So I could of been getting help a lot longer before even applying, but, the help I get now does help a lot.
So far, I have not really needed support with housing etc.
However when I did not have work a few years, I really struggled to find a house to rent for me and my 5 young children. Estate agents would not even let me view the house because they assumed that I would not pay the rent because I did not have income from employment.
I then had to turn to my local Council for advice. They did call me from time to time during my period of house search and I felt supported in some ways albeit little. Eventually one private landlord who used an online estate agent did allow us to come and view their property. There were at least 5 applications for this house and thankfully the landlord chose us to rent their property. We are happy where we are now. Our private landlord has so far has been good and kind to me and my family.
I did change from legacy benefits in 2019 and my experience was that I really felt that the journal was quite helpful. The time lag between one benefit to another was really poor, had to wait quite a long time, nearly two months. And also they had overpaid me in that time and without even discussing it with me, they started to take out the overpayment. So I didn't even know I'd overpaid. They'd overpaid me and they started to take the money out really quickly. As soon as I'd got my first Universal Credit payment, it was really low and really the overpayment wasn't my fault. It was because they'd moved me over to Universal Credit, but then still paid me that month and then I had to wait for that period of time. It's about eight weeks, I think. And unfortunately, that overpayment had carried me across, but then I had to pay it back and there was just no discussion about it. I felt like the communication was really poor. But I do really like the online journal and I do feel that they're quite responsive in there. But I just felt like it was less money and I just had to get my head down because all of a sudden I was in a debt that I didn't even know I had and through no fault of my own. So it felt a bit messy, really, to be honest. But the outcome of having the journal definitely feels easier.
Hi, thanks for the big question of the week. I wanted to answer this the other day, but it's been really busy. I managed to get some support with food vouchers, actually, or well, shopping vouchers, and they were really helpful just at a time where my son's growing and needs new shoes and so it took the pressure off the weekly shop, which is so expensive, and I was able to get some little treats as well. So that was really nice. I have tried getting help with a new boiler which is sort of partly funded by the LA, but unfortunately it just seems to be impossible to get any support with that. I find that the outreach workers who've come to see us or who I've spoken to are really nice and always really accommodating and they sort of make it clear that it should be relatively easy because of our situation to get support. So I've sort of found it to be quite helpful. And I'm doing some work with our council as well and know that they're really proactive in terms of getting warm spaces sorted, doing some anti poverty work. They're using lived experience as the baseline, really, for everything that they're doing. So I feel that we're really lucky that we do have a proactive council. We did miss out on some funding that which was really sad, but we're sort of struggling on and they're reaching out to partner agencies, so that feels really good.
I was actually supported very well by job centre. They advised I should be on disability rather than ESA as I have a chronic illness.