Last weekend at one of my tutorials my tutor was talking about how help is often put out there for groups of people in need, that often isn’t accessed because they don’t see themselves as being in that group. And I realised thats me. We are living in poverty. But I do not actively see that. I am not consciously aware that I am.
I’ve tried to make a life for me and my boys where they do not go without. But thats not easy. And as a result I’ve ended up in debt. Why? Because the standard benefits don’t cover living costs and extra for the uniforms, days out, food. When I first moved out of home I ended up with credit cards, catalogue accounts, you name it. In a bid to meet the demands of birthdays and xmas’s. To be able to give my family and friends presents.
Eventually those all ran out and I was left barely scraping by. And thats how its been ever since.
Today I got a letter I’d been dreading. The one that would tell me how much of my rent would be covered by housing benefit and how much I would have to come up with of my own benefits. The answer? £150. Doesn’t sound alot but when that is two weeks worth of weekly benefits thats alot. Not including the overdue gas bill that needs to be paid. The overdue payments on debts. This week we literally have nothing. There is £7 in my account and that has to last until next Thursday.
But do you know what? We are happy. It might be stressful constantly having to think can I afford that, what can I put on ebay, is the gas going to get cut off? But the most important thing is we are together and we have fun. What does piss me off is that although I work its still not enough. And that even if I worked more hours a recent calculation by my job centre advisor showed I would be worse off for working more hours than I would be staying on half earnings half benefits. The system is ridiciously fucked up, pardon my language there, and it is a complete cycle of debt for people in our situation.
What does upset me also is when people say, oh I know what its like for money to be tight. Yeah tight is one thing, having NOTHING is a whole other ball game. What do you do when you need nappies and there isn’t enough in your account. Or when the cupboards are bare? Most people have a back up of savings. I don’t, all those savings went onto debts and even still it wasn’t enough.
So there you go. In black and white. What its really like to have NO money.