Chloe’s story

Chloe is 26 years old, and lives in our Southwark Semi Independent Housing facility. One day, she wants to live in her own accommodation but at the moment she’s not well enough to work. We spoke to her about how the Cost of Living Crisis is affecting her:

“Today I feel angry, really angry telling you what it’s like to live miserably on such a low income. It’s not fair I am trying everything I can to turn my life around but things that are beyond my control has an impact on my hopes, my dreams, my aspirations.

Oh my God the food prices these days are shocking. I receive £308.00 a month Universal credit, £21.00 is being deducted for fines. 3 days after getting paid I will have spent all my money paying my rent arrears, food, essentials. I have a savings account but never been able to save more than £10.00 and often dip in to these tiny savings because I have no choice.

My mental health is significantly affected worrying about money. I get paid on the 30th of each month and since 30.08.22 once I have bought food and paid rent I only have £18 to live on until next benefit paid on 30.09.22. I only have £7.00 left on my Oyster card which I save for emergencies.

I rely on my Dad a lot financially and often go food shopping with him as he would rather assist than see me go to a food bank. My family feels it’s a stigma to use food banks, I don’t think like that and thinking of getting membership with Peckham pantry so I can buy more food at a reduced rate. I am really good at baking and for me this used to be a therapeutic hobby which I can’t indulge in anymore as the price of ingredients is so expensive. A typical food shop that used to be £20.00 is now £35.00. I don’t eat many massive meals, and for a while just survived on jacket potato and cheese. I buy all my toiletries from discount stores.

Month to month I can’t afford everything I need so regularly miss out on things I need. Walking long distances is my daily life now, I visit different supermarkets to buy the cheapest reduced items. If I can’t eat it by sell by date I will freeze it. I have not had a holiday for 4 years, not even to travel somewhere with my family in England. I can’t afford to help my Dad out or spoil my niece. I feel I am borrowing all the time just to get by.

Living like this is making me more depressed and anxious all the time. I walk everywhere to save money on bus fares and keep track of how many steps I do. One day I had several appointments and by the end of the day had walked 46,000 steps when the average recommended steps are 10,000 a day. My legs were so sore and stiff by the end but I had no choice as I could not afford the bus fares.

I hardly see my friends as I can’t afford to go out. When you have no money left and you can’t afford to go out its’ so depressing and stressful. It affects relationships because people invite me but then I never attend because I can’t afford to. I can’t explain how this makes me feel to those people, not having money is a stigma and embarrassing and left feeling ashamed.

I can’t afford much needed dental treatment that would make me a thousand times more confident when I speak to people. I am so conscious about the state of my teeth damaged over time due to poor health and neglect. It’s horrible not having any leftover cash for something I can enjoy that will help me make me feel better about myself.

I can’t save any money towards move on costs or unexpected emergencies. I worry about how I will ever afford to manage my own home when it’s time for me to leave supported accommodation. My future looks financially bleak as I am not well enough to work, just getting through the day is really hard and I don’t want the added pressures of wondering what can I eat, can I afford it. I am about to start therapy soon but feel whatever small positive steps I take forward, I will always feel anxious and go backwards away from my goals as I have no control over the cost of living prices. Life feels hopeless and something drastically needs to change. I don’t want my mental health to get worse or end up ill in hospital because life is getting so stressful. Normally there would have been a time when I would not ask about the price of something, now I ask this question constantly due to the rising costs of everything. 

I’m starting therapy next week as my depression and anxiety is affecting my move on goals. This week I made contact with Peckham Pantry to volunteer and in return for 4 hour shifts they will provide me with some free food. When I do manage to have a decent meal I feel better and have more energy. I wish I felt like this all the time. 

I have started seeking advice from Citizens advice about additional benefits I may be entitled to but the forms that I have to fill are so long and intimidating it puts me off, I wish there was a simpler more user friendly way to apply for financial help.

In winter I worry about walking long distances in the cold weather and becoming more ill. I may need help getting winter clothes. I saw my GP this week about reviewing my anti-depressants as I felt my medication was not helping me it was making me worse. Nobody should have to live in constant worry, how am I supposed to get better? What is really scary is I keep hearing that the cost of living is going to get worse? When I feel really down I stop talking to even my key worker who is trying to help me. That’s how depression grips me as I have no control over my negative thoughts.”

We are facing a once in a generation cost of living crisis, which will impact the poorest the worst.

We are working with the Government to make the changes needed to support the people through this crisis. Find out more about our work.

The cost of living crisis could lead to more people experiencing homelessness. Your support is needed now more than ever, donate here.