Hello from the breadline

“Mum, what’s for dinner?” “Mum, have you got any snacks?” “I’m hungry, Mum.” “Mum, what can I eat? I’m STARRRVING.”

Oh dear me, I think I have given birth to a swarm of locusts! Though this situation is actually not that funny, because although I would never let my children go hungry, I am hungry. I’m rummaging through my fridge and cupboards trying desperately to put together a meal to feed us all.

Bright and early this morning I was awoken by a message from my bank which read something like this “Dear pauper, you have insufficient funds to pay your rent again. What is your problem? We recommend that you sell a kidney and pay your rent immediately. If you don’t we will charge you more money (that we know you haven’t got) and then we’ll charge you for loaning you that as well. Have a lovely day…” Well it didn’t exactly say that, but you get the gist.

Needless to say I spent the rest of the day sobbing, and questioning what else I could do to earn more money. But the thing is, I am already pushed to my limits mentally and physically every single day and to be honest, I’m at a total loss. I feel like I’m down a very deep and dark financial hole and I cannot see a way out.

What on earth is going on? Parents work so hard, every day, every night. They provide so much for their children and for society. We are raising the future generation, we are exhausted, we are extorted by companies, we a penalised by financial institutes and if we dare to choose to spend actual time with our children, we are criticised for not choosing to work full time so we can spend most of our earnings on childcare. We just can’t win.

Why, oh why are families not valued? They do so much that goes unnoticed and unvalued. Families are increasingly plugging the gaps that funding cuts are creating. Families provide care and support for children, for the elderly, for those who are ill, for those with a disability and now families are increasingly plugging the gaps in the education system, by either home educating or by paying for extra support and assessment for their children. I’m not suggesting that families shouldn’t stick together and support each other, of course they should, and I would do anything for my family. But they shouldn’t also be living in fear of losing their home whilst they are fulfilling these roles.

Why are food banks feeding our NHS staff? Why are so many families one missed rent payment away from eviction and homelessness? Something is clearly amiss.

You may well be thinking, “why don’t you get a job you lazy cow? My hard earned tax is paying for you to be at home with those kids.” I hear that a lot in the media. Apparently I’m “living off the state.” Well actually, I have got a job; In fact I have three jobs, one of which involves cleaning messes and scrubbing toilets that aren’t mine (I really, genuinely love that job). Every penny I earn is then taken off me by tax credits and the local council office, who decide that they have ‘over paid’ me. I’m qualified beyond qualified, and I have a £29,000 debt to prove it. But to find work that is flexible enough for me to be able to look after my family, educate my son and earn enough money to pay the ever rising rent and bills, is impossible.

This post was not written to coincide with the election, please don’t be swayed by my ramblings. I actually wrote this a few weeks ago, but I’ve only just had time to post it. I have no idea who to vote for. Do I vote for a man who I’m not convinced can defend my country and keep me and my children safe, but a man who will put funding back into the services in which I can work? Or do I vote for a woman who is going to bankrupt me and starve my children, but who claims she can keep me safe? I’m struggling.

Anyway, I digress. My point is that I’m not asking for much. I’m not expecting government funding to go on an all-expenses paid holiday to the Maldives (I can’t afford the passports). I’m not even asking for a weekend in Clacton. All I dream of is being able to wake up one morning not having to question whether I have enough money to feed my own children and keep a roof over my head. I work hard and I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Do you?

 

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