Victoria B on 25 November 2020

The Universal Credit monthly cycle of torture: Relief - when you check your statement and know how much you're getting in however many days. Joy (tinged with shame at being so happy for something you know won't last long enough, but one good day is better than none right) when you get paid. Anxiety - over paying bills, making it stretch, is it enough for this, can I manage to get the kids that, I need to save, I can't, did I pay everything, have we got enough food, what about this, what about that. Stress - when it inevitably runs out, no matter how careful you are, maybe one week, maybe two, maybe three, but eventually they'll be £0 in the bank and days to count until the next payday. Fear - what if I've done something wrong, what if I've not done enough, what if I'm sanctioned, what if they take extra debts out, what if there's an emergency. What if they don't pay me next month. Shame - for being in this position, for being unable to make the money stretch, everyone else seems to manage why can't I (when deep in shame its easy to remember others probably think you're managing while they're hiding that they're not), am I a bad person/parent (common thought when the poor are often blamed for being poor, unjustly I might add). Then repeat. Over and over each month. Relief-joy-anxiety-fear-stress-shame-relief-joy-anxiety-fear-stress-shame over and over and over. It's easy to be kind on myself today, to relax and pat myself on the back and say "it's okay, you're doing the best you can, it'll get better" when I'm in the relief phase of the cycle. My joy day will be next Monday, got my statement today on the UC account. Spend the weekend cleaning and decorating ready for Dec next week, knowing that we'll soon have a little bit of money to maybe take a stroll into town to see the Christmas decorations and have a hot chocolate. Or maybe just stay at home and have a takeaway as a treat. Ready for a month of crafting and wrapping and (if I got my budgeting right) eating lol. Then the cycle will repeat. Next pay day, after Monday, is new years eve, it feels miles away. I feel so sorry for those who aren't as lucky as me, I wish I could give them all a big hug and tell them it'll be okay. Wish I could be confident it would be okay for any of us. Until the gov makes real changes to the benefit system and allow for flexibility for peoples/families individual needs, and provides a welfare system that is actually enough to manage on these days. Not asking for thousands each month, but enough that people don't have to pick between feeding themselves or just their kids.

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