Poverty Never Goes Away

poverty doesn't go away

For most of my life, I have been poor. At times, this has meant living in genuine poverty.

There have been times when things have been better and times when things have been worse, but I have mostly been hovering somewhere around that hypothetical ‘poverty line’. Even when my husband and I were working 5 jobs between the two of us, there were times when we couldn’t afford to feed ourselves and the bills went unpaid. We found that no matter how hard we tried to dig ourselves out of the hole, there was always something waiting around the corner looking to push us back even deeper. 

I have written about my experiences before and spoke about it on Stef’s Packed Lunch last year; talking about the impact debt and poverty had had on myself and my family.

What I didn’t mention was the fact that it never really goes away. 

Poverty-related Anxiety is a Constant Battle

Even now, when our financial situation is the best it has ever been, I get scared when the post comes and obsess over my bank balance. I calculate and recalculate the bills a million times to make sure that they are covered, I still take a calculator around the supermarket with me at times to try and make sure that I am as close to my budget as possible. We even recently switched supermarkets again as rising food prices meant that I was paying £40 more per week at our old store compared to this time last year. 

The news of increased energy prices has meant that I have genuinely lost sleep. I am worrying about whether I can afford to have the heating on, whether I would be better off doing a weekly trip to the launderette rather than using my own machine and planning meals which are the most energy efficient they can be. 

Poverty is always there. It’s the little voice which says that I can make my trainers last a little longer even though they have holes. Once you have been in the situation where you have to choose between feeding your children and paying the bills, the worry and fear never leaves you. 

What the Fear of Poverty Means to Me

In my heart, I know that I don’t need to worry as much as I do. We aren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination, but we are more secure than we have ever been before. We are incredibly fortunate that I have managed to turn something I love into a job.

I know that although our finances are being squeezed, we will survive. But I still worry. I was speaking to my husband recently about it and I said that I am scared of waking up and finding that it’s all gone. My fear is that my clients will disappear and the money will dry up. We will be back where we were before.

So, I am constantly juggling plates. I am always looking for new clients, and finding new ways to write. I took my laptop on holiday with me so that I didn’t lose a weeks work. The fear never leaves. If I stop, then poverty will catch up with me again.

So I keep running.

The Issue is Only Getting Worse

The current cost of living crisis makes this fear worse. The fact is that if this had happened a few years ago, we wouldn’t have survived it. We would have lost our home and the bills wouldn’t have been paid.

There are families in the UK today who are in the position I was less than two years ago. They work hard, but are living in poverty; drowning under the weight of their financial burdens. 

The lack of a genuine living wage means that people are working multiple jobs just to keep a roof over their heads. The Universal Credit system does nothing to alleviate the pressure. Instead, it makes it feel like an endless task of jumping through hoops for any amount of help. Community charities and food banks are noticing an increase in demand from all walks of life. Hygiene banks and organisations which give baby equipment and clothes to those in need are popping up everywhere.

The UK is the 6th richest nation in the world. These things should NOT be needed!  

These people are facing increases in  rental costs, food, fuel and energy prices. The situation isn’t getting any easier for them and they are fighting to survive. 

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