Stacey lives in our Southwark Semi Independent Housing facility, this means she only has to pay service charge, but she still has to buy food and other essentials. She has been relying on benefits for nine years, as she’s too ill to work. We spoke to her about how the Cost of Living Crisis is affecting her:
“I have been on benefits since the age of 21 and I am now 30, I remember constantly being sanctioned because I could not attend Jobcentre appointments due to my mental health being so bad.
I taught myself to budget and used to spend money on drugs and luxury items, it’s only when I moved to supported accommodation my life changed and I was determined to have a better life for myself. My shopping habits have changed so much I’m a different person now.
I am really shocked by the food prices these days. I don’t visit the local corner shop any more as it’s too expensive, I buy food and toiletries from Aldi & Lidl as it’s cheaper and often look for the yellow sticker reduced foods whenever I visit. I sometimes visit Peckham pantry to get better deals for food to make my money stretch further.
I currently have £2,000 debts and on a payment plan but it’s hard. It does get me down that on top of my mental health I have to worry about affording food. Although government has recently given extra payments, it’s not enough when everything keeps getting more expensive every month.
Life is s**t living on benefits, I think about money all the time. I have already planned to apply for emergency support grant to get heavy blankets and warm clothes. It’s not nice having to live and plan my life like this as constantly. I feel hopeless and trapped and I feel deprived of a social life – I can’t buy nice clothes. Now I think “what will be the cheapest way to buy and cook food?”. I tend to eat one main meal a day.
Last week I was offered a flat from the Council and I’m viewing it next week. Although I am really happy and excited that I am moving to my first home, I have already worked out I can’t afford to have the heating on or afford electricity. I will just live in one room over winter and buy an electric blanket as it will be cheaper than having the heating on.
I wonder how I will afford to live when I have my own home. I will be very conscious of leaving things switched on in the house. I would think twice before preparing any food in the oven as it would cost more. It’s rare for me to have a take away meal these days as their prices have gone up so much.
I am trying to save for my move on as I could get an offer of accommodation any time in the next 6 months but it’s very hard. The Government need to provide more financial help to poorer people and those that are too ill to work.”
We are facing a once in a generation cost of living crisis which will affect the poorest the most.
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.