The cost of living crisis is crippling families up and down the UK and one teaching assistant has described living off ‘one meal a day’ to make ends meet.
Helen Somers, 52, from Bingley, West Yorkshire, suffers with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and said she could be paying more than £500 in January for her gas and electric.
Talking about the emotional toll this has had on her, she said: ‘I’m sickened really, I am. I’m really low with it.
‘Every day I’m checking my bank to see whether I’ve got anything in it. You’re watching every penny you spend, you’re watching the petrol in the car before you go anywhere. It’s ridiculous.
‘I shouldn’t be doing this at my age. I love the fact that all my children are earning more than me, but I shouldn’t be feeling like this at my age.
‘I’ve got four children, I’ve raised them on my own. Now I’ve just got my youngest son living with me.
‘He’s 18, he’s been doing his A-levels this year. We’re basically living on his tax credits and child benefit. I come home with about £840 a month.
‘I do get, at the minute, working tax credit but all that will stop, when Charlie’s classed as not being a student any more.
‘Do I pay the water bill or do I pay the community charge? Whatever I pay, I’m going to be in debt to someone.’
Helen is not alone, the energy price cap is set to rocket to £3,549 on October 1, a move which will pile cost of living pressure on families.
This represents an eye-watering 80% increase in the energy price rise for this winter.
On top of this inflation is on the rise, which means even the price basic goods like bread, milk and butter has risen.
This is something not unnoticed by Helen, who said the price of her weekly food shop has increased.
She said: ‘I used to think that beans on toast, eggs, things like that were a cheap meal. Cheese omelettes, a quick cheap meal, but it’s not any more.’
Because of the rise in energy prices and inflation, Helen and her family have had to make changes to the way in which they live.
She said: ‘I work in a school so we get a reduced-price school dinner so, sometimes, I’ll have a school dinner and then I don’t have a tea.
‘So this is what we do, we’re reduced to one meal a day. My son’s not, he’s doing fine, but I’ll just have one meal a day just to cut back.
‘I’ll get up and have a coffee, go to work and have my dinner. Maybe I’ll have an apple or something when I get home. Maybe I’ll have cereal, cereal’s a good filler.
‘Sometimes I’m in bed for seven. As long as the pets are fed and Charlie is fed then you’re doing your job right, aren’t you?’
‘We need someone that does understand the cost of living. Someone that knows how much things cost.
‘Not someone that gives us false promises, someone that will actually do something. We’re not wanting handouts, we all work hard.
‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better. That’s the hardest thing, there’s no end in sight, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel on this one is there?’
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