Tuesday, 16 December 2014

My Story - part 8

I don’t feel like a strong person.  I’m using food banks and stuff the now and gambling. I want to be strong but I’m not yet, there’s a long way to go.  It’s a long slow road, but it’s a road, not a stop.

I get £104 a fortnight to live off.  Crisis loan repayments and Council Tax comes off that first.  Then £30 to the hostel.  £40 for messages.  I will have to start paying back my old rent arrears if I want a new flat with the Housing Association.  I have very little left at the end of it.  It’s hard to cope.  Even though I get my Housing Benefit, it’s hard times.  Everything is money.  Everything.  And everything is going up apart from what you’ve got in your pocket.  

Sometimes I end up going back the Bookies because I’m desperate to make my money stretch a bit further.  I used to gamble a lot in the past.  It gets a hook in you; it’s like control in the head.  Sometimes it’s like it’s just whispering to you.  But you can never beat a bookie, no matter how hard you try.

They push you and push you at the Job Centre. I’m always worried I’m going to trip up and get sanctioned.  Every time I go in there it’s a worry.

One of our Commissioners gives us a privileged insight into their life. They give us the good and they give us the bad. The story helps us understand poverty a little better. Here is part 8.

I feel trapped because I’m living in a hostel, and if I took a job and lost my Housing Benefit, I wouldn’t be able to pay the hostel.  It would be too hard.  But they don’t listen to me at the Job Centre, I’m just another number. I really want to work, but I don’t know how, and it feels like they’re choking to sanction me.

At times I feel socially excluded out of everything.  I feel like people look down on me because of the way I look, the way I dress.  I start to think in my head that I’m a waste of space.  I might look homeless, but there’s still good inside of me.  Don’t insult my intelligence.  I don’t want people to pity and patronise me when I walk down the street.  I am still a human being.  Every time I get up, get a shower in the morning, get ready, go out, every day is a battle.  Sometimes it really affects my mental health.  But I know there will be low days and try to keep going.

I try not to use food banks because they make me feel worse.  They make me feel low, ashamed, it shows I’m struggling, it feels like another judgement.  I know they’re there to help people, but that’s how they make me feel.  Sometimes I have no option though.

I’m much more than someone who is struggling with money, mental health and homelessness.  I am a singer, an actor, a striver.  My strength is being with people, building relationships, and supporting them.  I know what it is like to be alone and isolated.  

I volunteer with Bridging the Gap in the Gorbals.   I feel happy when I go there. They are amazing.  Every time I go in there it’s always a positive and something I’m good - I can be somebody.

And now I am part of the Poverty Truth Commission too.  I want to help change things.  Actions are better than words.  We all need to take a stand together, and I want to be a part of that change.

The most important thing I’ve learnt about myself is to never give up on yourself.  If you give up on yourself, what chance have you got?  

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