"Last Spring I fell into a depressive state. For me, being moved into Universal Credit, from the relative security of Income Support, and the pressures there of was emotionally difficult. Leading to feelings of worthlessness, shame and dread that made me want to cry most days. Those early days on universal credit were some of my darker days since leaving the ex, where I was reminded that freedom in the modern world is determined by income. I fear finding work, and having to compromise on my children's safety from my ex. I fear not finding work and being shamed and dehumanised on benefits for the long term. Cos when you're on benefits for too long it must always be the claimants fault, not the systems, so the claimant gets punished, santioned or forced to do ultimately unhelpful training just to make it look like the gov is trying to help. It's bull. I was hoping, over Christmas and New year when I couldn't lift myself out of my mental slump, I was hoping that with the return of spring and easing of lockdown I may feel a renewal of hope for the future but I don't. When I lived with my ex, everyday was hell and when we left it was like moving from a bitter storm to a sunny field, everything felt brighter and lighter and easier. I hoped maybe I'd feel a similar sense of relief or freedom coming into spring this year, easing lockdown and getting back into the world. But I dont. Freedom costs. I know I'm more likely to face additional financial hardships in the coming months, more people will want money from me, more expenses, but with less income, especially when they take away the £20pw in the autumn. I'm terrified of how hungry we'll be in a few months. I dreading needing to turn to food banks again, especially after last springs experience with food banks low quality and often out dated foods. I want to feel hopeful, I want to feel happy again, I want to be able to smile with my kids without feeling like I'm faking cheer. So even when lockdown is fully lifted I'll likely not be able to enjoy the world as we did precovid, because it costs too much to leave the home and enjoy the world. Even a trip to the beach (£10-15 in buses) would need to become a rare treat when once, precovid, pre universal credit, it was a semi regular outing. It costs too much to live even a basic existence these days, let alone one of substance (by substance here I don't mean luxury, I mean basic quality). The system is rigged against us, against low income families, especially against single parent families. It's not right. I knew when I left my ex that I was making a choice tween living in hell with him or living in relative poverty without him, I choose the latter cos atleast my kids would be safe from abuse on benefits. But it's a shitty choice to be forced to make. Hunger or assult. A poor example of living or the daily risk of death. Why must women (and men but mostly women as it's easier for single fathers to find work than single mothers, and the latter is shamed while the former is praised), why must women be forced to trade their very lives for the safety of their children? Either way the kids are screwed, hungry, anxious and watching their mums struggle. Yesterday was international women's Day and all over Facebook I saw posts promoting successful women. Still more examples of a woman's worth being based in their socially determined value to society. Single mothers, especially single mothers that have survived abuse, are raising the next generation of children, that is hard work. They're trying to help their children heal from abuse, heal from food insecurity, heal from generational harms (which differ for each family, such as racism, abilism and other abuses), all while being told their work isn't valuable enough to be considered worthy of a living, being worthy of aid or worthy of recognision within laws and policies for the hard work we do to try and prevent our children having to face the issues we have and still face. It's unjust."

Victoria B
Mar 9, 2021

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