On Monday morning I was both excited and proud to be able to attend an in person meeting with my local MP accompanied by a team member from CPAG. This was a continuing part of the London lobby day earlier this year.
We took along with us a copy of the zine booklet and some other information about the Changing Realities programme, along with some local child poverty statistics for the area I live in provided by CPAG. In my mind he showed a good interest in the situation that families face.
He also has clear thoughts on what the Liberal Democrats would like to help change, for example, Free School Meals for all school age children and an end to the child benefit cap.
There were also longer term changes that he would like to push for including social tarifs for utility bills. I hope that with all of our efforts being involved in Changing Realities can help bring around change for families living on a low income. Every single MP or member of this government should be looking at the work we are all doing together to help bring about this change without delay. So hopefully all is not yet lost.
It is hard enough living below the poverty line, surviving on benefits, if they don't rise with inflation it is effectively an income cut to the poorest people in UK society. We would have to make more difficult decisions about how to spread the same amount of money even further. We are stretched thin enough already and have been for years. It affects our family's health but I believe that is Government's intention and desire.
Benefits have not kept up with inflation. For instance, the increased rents for the housing benefit element, where rents have increased significantly but the local housing allowance stays the same. This is pricing those who have no choice but to rent privately into further difficulties. It is already difficult to make ends meet on benefits. We feel powerless about the decisions only the government can make. In simple terms we will be plunged into deeper poverty if benefits do not keep up with inflation, and the government does not care.
I feel grateful throughout all of this time, because no matter what, no matter how bad things get, we survive. That's a hugely important message I want my son to take away from his childhood. You can get through anything and at some point, things will level out and we will be ok.
The roof needs repairing, and the roofer has said that I can pay him in instalments! How amazing is that?!
I am slowly changing my mindset because I realise the impact that poverty has had on me is to make the previously happy and hopeful person I was, into a very depressed person, the cup has definitely been half empty. But I want to change that for myself and for my son.
I am a survivor of adversity, of trauma, and that is an amazing thing I think. I am one of the lucky ones.
It isn't easy to change your mindset when things are difficult and when maybe you didn't have the best start in life either, but I am trying because I want a better life for myself and for my son and despite the challenges we face, there is so much to be thankful for.
I am currently in intensive therapy and slowly, the lady I am working with is helping me to develop a toolkit of coping strategies. I'd like to share these with my son in a positive way and help him to see that his own reality can be better. No matter how tough things get, we are here and we are survivors.
I appreciate the Covid Realities and subsequent Changing Realities projects and the teams and partners, very much. The experience of being involved in these has been so uplifting and there are so many reasons to never give up. I have become an activist, I have become a person who sees the truth behind so many things, that's priceless. The projects have expanded me as a person and made me better in many ways. How lucky I am to have experienced this.
I do feel sad that the projects will be coming to an end, but I will be forever grateful to have taken part.
Not looking forward to autumn and winter, can't afford heating on a low income.
I want to start by saying that I’m managing, that I’m not broken, but, that I know I can’t keep things going as the situation stands, without significant impacts.
That’s what I want to speak about, the impact of poverty on my physical and mental health. How, if I track my life from 2019 to now, I can see just how messed up things have become.
It wouldn’t matter how much money I had right now in a way, the damage is done.
Poverty, slowly but steadily, removes your true voice. It takes away the strength to fight, to believe that we are worthy.
Over time, our friends have stopped asking us to attend events, stopped inviting us to places because we cannot afford to join them. Our circle has reduced so much and as a single parent to a child with additional needs, that has slowly destroyed my sense of self worth and my ability to get out and try to enjoy life.
My body ‘feels’ broken. I am experiencing a very difficult menopause and despite multiple attempts to garner healthcare support, I am unable to due to a family history of cancer. I’ve given up asking. So I just suffer and I don’t use that word lightly.
I can’t properly care for myself any longer, and that is so very sad to me. I gave up smoking and drinking alcohol, I tried to eat healthily but it’s so expensive now.
I recently had a minor accident and really hurt my foot. I absorbed the pain and carried on because there is only me to take care of things. I found out from my doctor when I could finally get in, that I have a suspected hairline fracture on my foot. I’ve just carried on, because although rationally I know I need to rest, realistically, I can’t. I can’t afford to get help to do jobs in my home and I have no one to help with my son.
I absorb the pain and I think well this is all you can do, but it makes me so so sad that I even matter so little to myself now.
I am not the person I was in September 2019. When I finally had help with my son, I had a part time job, I had possibilities and a bit of hope. I was building back up after difficult times and honestly thought we can do this, things will get better, they haven’t.
Recently, my stepfather died and the devastating effects of that have hit me hard. I come from a fractured family and have no support at all from them. They hid his death and I found out by accident. I cannot tell you how that felt and as I add that to the mountain of suffocating beliefs that I don’t deserve better, I know that getting out of this dark place has become something I just cannot see.
Whilst I keep telling myself you aren’t broken, the reality is a very different story…
I’m trying hard to keep the faith and I support others through voluntary work and a listening ear, so it isn’t over, yet.
I wanted so much more for my son, how sad that so much greed and apathy to the lives of people on low incomes has rendered any dreams that I had, void.
I do think that we have survived a lot, and maybe we can get through. But the crisis in the actual ‘cost’ of living this way is far from over for so many of us.
Certainly not, while the price of some things has gone back down a bit in price such as gas, electricity and fuel, there are still millions of families like mine that are going to have no choice but to leave the heating turned off this winter and stay cold in our own homes due to the cost. I am unable to afford to cook food on a daily basis, often having to eat cold meals instead that do not require the use of gas or electricity. In the shops the price of some foods has also come down slightly such as fruit and vegetables but again the cost of fresh fruit is still far too high to enable us to afford the recommended amount, also I am sure most people have noticed that apart from price increases in a lot of supermarket prices there has also been a reduction in the amount / size of package simply meaning another increase.
I also feel this has a larger effect on those receiving Legacy benefits that did not get any increase along with other benefits earlier in the year and also missed out on most cost of living payments. My situation on Legacy benefits means myself and my daughter are living on the same amount as we we were five years ago apart from the small increase in child benefit, with no help from my previous partner this is all we have to survive on. So simply, NO the cost of living crisis is not over and is yet a long way off. I am starting to lose hope that anything will change for low income families no matter what government is in place within my lifetime. Whenever there is a price increase in utility bills, internet connection, food or anything else it means I have to make more and more cutbacks in other areas to stay afloat.
It is not a case of if and when things will change, it is NOW that changes must be made in order for a fairer society where we can all have a reasonable standard of living, bring up our families to have the best possible start in life that is achievable and be in a situation to lift themselves out of a life of poverty.
In spite of all our difficulties with physical & mental ill health, I am writing with some happy news for a change. My 18 y/o son passed his Level 2 City & Guilds Welding certificate, and I'm going to be a mother-in-law as my eldest son popped the question to his partner. It's vital that we have things to look forward to. We who live in poverty are as deserving of happiness as anyone else.
So many costs
So much uniform to buy
New bus passes to buy
Not enough money to buy anything
I have no new beginnings to look forward to. There's nothing more I can do. I'm a single parent, I already work full time, I'm not on minimum wage, and yet I still cannot afford to pay my bills or do the shopping. And I'm sat here now, almost crying because I've just come back from Aldi with a calculator in one hand, trying to not go over the ten pound that I've got left until the 25th. And, I mean, we're on the 9 August, I've almost got no petrol in the car. I can't think of any new beginnings, so I can't look forward to any because there's just nothing. There's no hope. There is no hope whatsoever. And.
The break is too long for the children and should be shared out between seasons more time off at Christmas would be easier.
The pressure to take days out and the more food needed adds to the stress of financial poverty because there is on top the issue of new school uniform. People think that new school uniform has to be bought this is in your face in the shops and supermarkets which again adds to financial struggles. Schools and media should be encouraging parents to only buy if needed if uniform still fits don’t buy new, if you have uniform that’s in good condition that doesn’t fit pass it on.
I personally feel the summer break for some families is way too much, they are struggling with money already and 6 weeks of bored children nagging for sweets, days out, snacks, is not good on mental health when they simply cannot afford the demands the break brings. Then schools are sat empty when could be utilised for fun activities for families and lunches served to those struggling.
It would be interesting to know if foodbank use is higher in school holidays!
Honestly, I’m down because I can’t afford to do a lot. My son explained the other day that he feels terribly resentful that other kids get to have holidays and days out and lots of things that I just can’t afford.
It will be really lovely to spend some time relaxing though and not having to rush in the morning!
Grateful to be a mum, but so so sad that I cannot provide a more dynamic life for my son, and I feel I have not given him the best childhood because we have been really poorly off financially for a lot of his life.. most of it really.