Cost Of Inequality Story 12

This is Alicia Community reporting, Sara, what are the everyday strains and stresses that you are currently facing at the moment due to the cost of living? Um, so I've J I've just been sanctioned. So that's, uh, really affected everything in my life at the moment, Um, like the cost of fuel and food. And I've lied a lot on the community. Um, fuel prices in general are way too high, so even not on a sanction

A struggle to sort of heat. My, um, heat my flat. I've got no carpet, so that makes it harder to keep the heat in

Um, you said that you'd used community and community spaces. What did that entail? Um, so I was I've got a community centre downstairs from my flat, so it's all very local. And I was taking my daughter to get breakfast in the mornings

And, um, sometimes if I had no milk for a cup of tea and things, I was able to just go and have a cup of tea elsewhere, or some hot food Or, you know, just a warm place to see if I couldn't if my flat was too cold or, you know, replacing the things that I should have in my own home, basically. So going back to what you were saying about sanctions, what were the sanctions and how has that affected you? So the sanction was because I missed an appointment. But the reason I missed the appointment was because I changed my phone number because I was receiving harassing calls

So I've changed my phone number. And then when I went to log into my journal, realised that I actually needed that number to access my journal. So I phoned the people to get that all changed

But you have to have an appointment to change your phone number. So during that period, I was given a work search review, which I wasn't aware of. The sanction was placed onto my account, which I also wasn't aware of because of not accessing my journal

And that went on. So the more you ignore the sanction, the more sanction you get. So I've unwittingly ignored the sanction which has made it worse and and didn't rebook an appointment which made the sanction worse because I hadn't rebooked the appointment myself

I was unable to claim a hardship payment. Um, because you can't claim one until you've attended your appointment. And it just seems like the little policies or their rules have really, really blocked me from living

Just living. Never mind living comfortably, just living. So how have you been surviving financially? Well, my main focus is to not get myself into debt, So I have really avoided borrowing money, which has made it a little bit harder

But I've gone to food bank. So I've had about I think, about six or seven food banks which at a certain point had to be overridden because you're only allowed a certain amount. But because of my circumstances, I was given a food bank

But I can still only get that once a week. Um, I've been going to the share shack which provides hot food on one day a week. The community centre can provide me with, uh, with hot food as well sometimes and just the community, to be honest, friends have had me around for dinner, things that you shouldn't normally have to do, though, if I'm honest, so you should be able to go home, put your heating on and cook dinner, and I haven't been able to do that

And you're a single parent as well, aren't you? So how do you feel? That and the lack of money and relying on the community has affected Children? Well, I've tried to not make it affect my Children in the best way that I can, because I don't want them to feel like we're struggling. And I've tried to make it fun. So when we're going to the place that gives us hot food, it's for her

It's to do an activity or a craft or something fun for her to do. So she's not seeing it as all we need to go and have dinner at the community centre, just shielding her a little bit from the, you know, how would you put it, but trying to make it like we're doing this for fun? Not for because we've got no money. So how does this affect your health? Your mental health? Um, a lot

Really? Well, I mean being cold. Definitely. I don't know

It affects everything. It affects how you sleep. We haven't really slept properly because it's been really quite cold recently, so that's affected it

I've got storage heaters, which are really expensive. Um, we've not been able to have baths as regularly as we would, um, and because I've got no hot water tank, I'm boiling the kettle and boiling the kettle is absolutely unaffordable, especially when you're doing it to run a bath. But the housing have now added an extra week constantly getting a boiler, so there's nothing I can do about that

But they don't seem to connect the cost of coping with that lack of boiler to to real life. So that's that's probably affected me the most. And your mental health

How has that suffered? Um, well, I'm just constantly thinking, What do I need to do to achieve this? So if I haven't got it's, it's a stress. Do you know what I mean? I'm trying not to let it affect me mentally, but that's difficult because I've got Children to look after, and when you've got Children to look after, it's no longer about you. And if it was just me, I could probably ride it and just be like, You know, I'll be cold tonight

But when you're worried about your Children being cold, it's a whole different kind of world. Do you know what I mean? Like I feel sometimes I'm just really upset when the you know, the kids go to bed and I just think, God, I made it through another day kind of thing. OK, thanks very much

Thank you for your honesty..

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