Day 2 of this rain. I went as far as the wheely bin in the garden but never bothered to get dressed. Not much point putting on clean clothes to sit in the house.
Lots of flooding shown on social media. Feeling the loneliness today.
Nobody has made contact with me. I could try first contact with someone else, but I feel stuck for what to say without depressing them. Radiator downstairs is not heating up. It's constant repairs in this house. Can hear drips of rain come down the chimney. I am grateful for the reward for the extra I provided for this project. I only went and messed up wanting to spend it online.
I missed alerter out on my email. I filled in online form for help from love to shop and hope to hear soon.
I googled how to raise extra money. There are apps to do surveys and watch adverts for pennies. It's frustrating as I have no motivation. Feel spaced out and drowsy on these meds. Sitting waiting for HMRC to send a letter for tax credits to stop, to make a claim for U.C is anxiety provoking. Do they give you notice of a date?
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.
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.
It's been a while since I've added another entry to my diary.
I'm too scared to check my bank balance these days. It takes real courage to face up to your finances when there's not enough to cover costs. It's easier to be ignorant in the hope it will all sort itself out on its own.
I've been unable to sleep ... I gave up trying to & have made a cuppa. The early morning stillness is just as restfully so I can think more clearly which has allowed me to reflect on the past few months. I've been so preoccupied during that time.
In July I eventually received the dreaded dwp envelope with instructions to complete another assessment form.
It's a much shorter form this time. Still I'm not attempting to fill it in myself no matter how knowledgeable I've become regarding these processes. Following a recommendation from my MP, I called the professionals in to help me with it. The appointment date to see someone was well after the return date for the form so I immediately needed to call up the dwp to request a return extension.
To begin with it was ridiculous that the form had a date which showed it took 2 weeks in the post to receive it which left me 2 weeks to return the darn thing ordinarily.
At least on this occasion I was ready to go to all out war with them if I wasn't given what I'm perfectly entitled to. Once the call handler told me I could have the usual 2 week extension I immediately informed her I couldn't even get an appointment to have help completing it until well after that date. She then told me she needed to speak to a manager & as quick as that she came back with a date to return the form some 6 weeks later.. Technically I've had about 2 months grace to complete & return it, which is incredibly long. Although I guess it's due to the fact that in some parts of the country the dwp have backlogs of work to process. In some regions people are waiting 12 to 18 months for their applications to even go through before further assessment.
This form, has meant I have had to dig long & deep into my mountains of medical records, past applications, new medical information about my health conditions, etc., in order to evidence proof & facts. Not simply a case of "innocent until proven guilty" more "guilty of fraud until proven otherwise".
Alongside all the effort to get my medical notes in order ready for scrutiny by the dwp - who are by no means medical experts, for if they had all the answers about my condition they'd be earning millions in medical research sharing their findings, not working as civil servants, (medical assessors earn £46,000 p/a alone, possibly before bonuses), we also had to hide from the bailiffs who turned up at my door for my middle son. So that wasn't very pleasant.
He uses the house as a care of address but hasn't made that clear to his creditors. So my youngest & I have been virtually like prisoners in our home until he eventually called up a debt helpline. (Only after nagging him to do so for months on end.)
After seeking advice on the issue myself, I only need to show any bailiffs a council tax bill - to prove he has never lived here - through a window rather than opening a door to them. I've found out bailiffs are supposed to exercise more understanding to vulnerable people. Nevertheless I still remain weary of unexpected visitors ready to point out the facts as they are.
Also I was in a dilemma with my car last month. It needed major repairs. It had to go. I had to look for another used car. Amazing that I found something suitable & managed to sell the old car too. This took a big chunk of my money to fund the change over. Still trying to recoup the costs. It will take a while for that to happen, obviously.
About the same time I also received a parking charge notice. Forgot to display my blue badge in a disabled parking bay. I was horrified. I immediately panicked & sent in my appeal to the agents ... which got knocked back. Next tried to call the landowners but no joy there either.
It was only in a casual chat with the MP's caseworker that they offered to chase it up for me & managed to get the charge dropped! I was over the moon. Could well do without paying £60 - £100 in fines! Told the case worker that's easily 2 weeks shopping!!
With all these things going on weighing heavy on my mind as well as family issues to help out with, it feels like there's hardly been any time to enjoy the school summer holidays.
We did manage a week away in a caravan. However I was wrapped up fighting the dvla to reclaim car tax exemption for the new used vehicle I recently purchased. Along with family demands we were expected to sort out even though we were on holiday, my son & I were left feeling harrassed & upset with everything that went on during the week.
So much so my son has recently suffered nightmares about another ongoing issue we face. We've been trying to find suitable alternative accommodation with social housing. Decent homes are few & far between.
This summer has felt like our worst year by far. As much as there is to be grateful for, there's equally as much I'd rather forget or not have to deal with.
I hope we can try to enjoy what time is still left before the return to school in a few weeks but given the friction between my immediate family, it's not likely to be easy going over a bank holiday weekend unless we hide or switch off the phone.
I paid my£600 rent on time and in full on the 1st of every month before and throughout lockdowns. My private had made no attempt to contact me within the 3 years I and my daughter stayed in the flat.
Out of the blue, in lockdowns, I started to receive phone calls from the landlord's wife that the neighbours (in their own bought flats) had called them and complained I was causing damage in communal areas of the block of flats. I found this strange as the neighbours never came to me direct and how did they have my landlord's phone number as they moved away across the country. These absurd phone calls became more regular and the landlord and his wife decided to visit.
They picked faults of our living conditions. It was not a show house, it was lived in and I had a basket of washing sitting to be ironed. The landlord's wife made a fuss saying I was not coping mentally. She went into my daughter's bedroom without permission. My daughter has autism and the landlord and wife did not respect us. My daughter was struggling with her mental health at the time and became distressed as the landlord's wife sat on her bed announcing she was a retired social worker and it was clear that we were not coping.
I lost my temper and shouted for them to leave.
Landlord did not adhere to laws and give 24 hours notice to visit. He would sit outside my flat early in morning and wait for me to leave as he mentioned he had a key and could enter his property any time he liked.
Police and the private rental housing officer of council played it down as lockdowns were causing tempers to rise.
One morning the landlord pushed his way in and both my duaghter and myself pushed against the door. He put his foot in the door and shouted we were attacking him! I called police who said it was a domestic and we needed to calm down. They did not come out to flat. I called all services who supported my daughter who is autistic. None were available and all working from home. They were not allowed to enter my flat due to council covid restrictions.
Finally a kind volunteer from Citizens Advice came out and arranged a time with landlord to have a discussion.
Turned out that this was typical bully behaviour of private landlords who wanted to evict tenants but not want to go through proper court procedures as it costs.
There was no reason to evict us. The communal repairs were due to the neighbours not having home insurance and blamed me to get my landlord to pay. They were all in cahoots.
Inside the flat, the landlord had failed to maintain gas boiler annual checks and the 5 year electricity checks. He broke the law.
The lease was not legal binding as it was printed from the Internet and used American legal jargon.
The landlord owned other properties and the tenants could not pay rent in lockdowns and he wanted to sell all his properties as soon as lockdowns lifted.
I had done nothing wrong, but the impact of the bullying landlord still affects the mental health of both my daughter and myself.
I found another private house which was more expensive but was in better condition of the only 2 homes up for rent. I got into debt with a high interest loan to pay the deposit. The council offered to support financially for deposit and white goods but took 12 weeks to process the application that stated 28 days turnaround. By that time we were already in our new home. The council refused to reimburse me.
I had no washing machine or fridge freezer for first few months and had to buy second hand and pay a local man to plumb in washing machine. With high interest payments on the land for removals and deposit. We were in poverty.
Again citizens advice came to the rescue with organising lower loan repayments.
We been here 18 months now... The house is cold an damp not insulated. No carpet downstairs yet. Draughts can be felt from windows when shut. Black mould growing on front of house walls. Minor repairs are not being done letter box broke off and can see daylight through a gap. Energy bills are very high.
Leasing agent is kind but making excuses of the damp being caused by walls sweating due to pictures on walls. We took pictures off walls, cleaned the mould off and 2 months later there is more black mould.
I am paying over the benefit limit and the energy bills are still high even though I received cost of living payments, the bills are not any lower.
Looking for a more affordable home is near impossible as rent prices are up again over the housing benefit limit.
It is been very hard to get new house sorted as needs lots of repairs and having 3 kids makes it hard to get done and still need pay carpet in front room stairs landing and son's room xx
I know it's not the end of the world, but my 20 year old tv has packed up. A lot of people would just expect you to go out and buy another, but times have changed over the last 20 years, I struggle to buy food and clothing for my family and myself, so a tv is out of the question, this got me thinking about what I would do if the fridge or cooker stopped working!
This week's return to freezing weather & snow showers has seen me trying to block up the cold breeze blowing through the letter box again.
I might be missing something here, but aside from fitting an external letter box or building a porch, you'd think by now there would be a better way to engineer doors so people didn't have wind chill circulating around their living rooms.
I don't know what is worse, the fact that I've become so obsessed with 'locating' drafts & heat loss or the fact that I'm constantly trying to 'block everything up' or is it learning to 'live with the drafts' when you're trying to heat your home?
I've had my first electric bill, since the price cap rose, I was fixed but that ended the 31st January.
My bill is shocking high, and this month tripled due to having building works, and the builders using power tools to take down walls, am not quite sure how I will pay it this month, and I am scared about having my account in debit
Is it just me or is anyone else sick and tired of being an accountant as well as a parent and every other role we have to survive?
Yesterday my son was clearly worried about telling me someone spilt coffee over the back of his dry clean only suit. There's unexpected expense to calculate in or off set.
The irony last night was too much when the landlord sent an electrician round with a brand new fan oven to replace the broken one we had sat gathering dust. Ironic because I was able to buy a new all singing and dancing multi cooking pot/air fryer with the petrol money we had saved when the car was with the mechanic for 7 weeks. This new oven is 'A' rated for energy efficiency too. Which makes it seem an exciting proposition to use it because I'm under the impression it'll be really cheap to run based on a rating chart on a sticker. As it was I had to run it on maximum heat setting for 30 minuets to get rid of the odour from the manufacturing processes. What a waste of electric. I was half tempted to leave the shelves and oven tray wrapped up in cardboard and plastic in protest at the idea of using it at all. But, since it's here, we are compelled to give it a go and bake stuff this weekend.
Also, to my horror this morning, I came downstairs to discover the hot tap had been dripping into the kitchen sink all night long. Another complete waste of our money. I'd replace the washer myself if I had a spare and knew exactly what I was doing rather than book a repair with the landlord. Coincidentally, it was only last night I went to great lengths explaining to my son about squeezing the tap really tight to avoid it leaking. Talk about tempting fate.
All part of the trials and tribulations of living life on a fixed low income during a cost of living crisis. Rather tragic as we navigate our way though years of austerity, cut backs, shortages, pandemics and wars. Feels like we've been wading through thick mud for years plunged into these situations time after time.
I recall the words of the Citizens Advice volunteer telling me divorce would cause me to fall into a poverty trap. It was without doubt, the best decision I ever made in my life to end my marriage, yet I'm still stuck living in poverty some 24 years later.
The additional payment is certainly very welcome in my household. It was unexpected as I hadn’t been aware of the exact time it was due and Sod’s Law my fridge broke so at least I had the funds to replace this necessary item.
As appreciative as I am of the extra money, I am aware more than ever of my “poverty status” by being entitled to this. It’s another reminder that I live month to month (pay day to pay day) and that there is a lot of anxiety around affording life. I’m unable to focus on long term and short term, it's frightening.
There's been an upsetting story about the dangers of black mould in the news recently.
The dreadful consequences of this incident have sparked concerns for conditions in rented accommodation. We rent. Low-income family goes hand in hand with substandard housing and heating poverty. We have only lived in the property 8 months. We have discovered mould. Not just a small amount, treatable in unoccupied part of the house we live in. In fact, an alarming growth appeared growing over the contents of a built-in bedroom cupboard.
In fact, it would be more accurate to say a seaweed looking substance had completely engulfed several loose items of clothing and footwear that lay on the shoe rack or hung over the footwear. I was obviously concerned for our health as well as disturbed by the cost involved to replace spoiled garments. I removed all the offending articles cleaned what I felt was worthwhile or necessary and emailed my landlord's agent for their help.
It's not as though I was ignorant or oblivious to the signs. I had been on the lookout for damp spots since the end of the summer, like a night watchman at the sound of breaking glass.
Firstly, the regular draft sweeping in from underneath the cupboard door was enough to alert me to the reality that all was not right within the cupboard space. Unable to detect damp in the walls or carpet I considered lagging the walls with spare reflective sheeting sent to me free of charge courtesy of a local energy efficiency scheme. I wasn't really sure how to attach the sheeting to the walls without creating further damp, condensation or damage to the paintwork, so I had abandoned the idea, and opted for a wait and see what developed approach.
The property is probably 70 years old after all so these things are to be expected. In the summer, I even applied for grants and funding on offer to increase the energy rating of the property. However, I haven't heard back anything more about the wonderful possibilities of cavity wall insulation or installation of extra downstairs radiators or replacement of badly fitted double glazed units, because this could only take place if my landlord was prepared to pay one third of the overall cost. I can only guess he wasn't willing or able to do this.
To my further annoyance and concern there is also mould spreading rapidly in another room at the rear of the property. It's very obviously black mould on whitewashed brick walls. I can't pretend to be an expert at these matters, but I happen to understand enough to know the problem in one area can be managed, however, the second area is likely to require extensive treatments to put things right and make this room safe. No amount of leaving a back door open as ventilation at the risk of rats and mice taking up residence inside or heating the room would be enough to halt the growth of spores on my part. I believe the brick needs proper damp proofing for a start.
The following day, to my horror, I read an article, suggesting how landlords might well lay the blame for damp issues in rented accommodation on their tenants. For instance, not opening windows or utilising adequate heating, in addition, where there was substantial condensation using dehumidifiers.
In my mind, to lay blame on the tenants would be complete nonsense in light of the current cost of living crisis. Blame Mr Putin instead. Even the energy saving gurus currently advise, turn off radiators in rooms you don't use to save precious pennies on high-cost energy bills.
I can't speak for the living habits of everyone but, as far as my own situation goes, to the best of my knowledge, I've been doing all the right things. For instance, upstairs I've been keeping the cupboard doors open to allow the air to circulate more, the bedroom window has been left slightly open occasionally too. The bedroom is large and airy enough already. So far, so good, although, on inspection of the exterior wall to the room there is a small patch of exposed brick work which will definitely need attention. I'd say a very likely root cause of the issue there.
As for the rear room, there is no ventilation brick or otherwise. There is no heating appliance in there unless I resort to using a small electric fan heater which, whilst giving out great amounts of heat, also incurs great cost for what it's worth, because I might as well heat the whole shed and garden with the thing whilst I'm at it. As soon as the heat source is switched off its an igloo in there again. Not to mention, the amount of condensation that is produced in the walls floor and concreate ceiling creates a vicious circle of events.
All I can say is, in my humble opinion, the makeshift storeroom is poorly constructed to sad standards unsuitable for winter living.
Since the whole cost of living crisis kicked off, I can wholeheartedly say I totally welcome any government incentives to improve housing standards. A heavy-handed approach was needed to tackle issues before the energy crisis but more so now double quick. All part of the joys of living life on a low income.
Meanwhile still waiting for the agent to respond to my original email. Also, the boilers unexpectedly packed in on me 3 times this week which I've notified them of too. Ideal for me just as I'm starting to develop familiar symptoms associated with a reoccurring health problem too.