As the never ending cold winter and the ever increasing cost of living and energy costs continues once again I took to the streets and interviewed several people in my local town Ashton Under Lyne.
Ashton Under Lyne is a typical northern working class town, drained of money by the government and the majority of people living in differing stages of poverty.
Mortality rates are amongst the highest in the UK and there’s a higher rate of people either being unwell or living with some type of disability.
Like any other northern working class town it doesn’t have a lot for people to aspire to despite the positive changes that Tameside Council are implementing and trying to introduce.
Years of government forced austerity policies has been and continues to cause a lack of funding for essential services with most things already stripped to the bare minimum.
As I headed off into the cold I spoke to a young woman that had two young children with her. I introduced myself and asked her how she is coping with the cost of living and the ever increasing energy crisis.
As I asked her this I could see that she was upset, telling me that she thinks that she’s failing her children because she can’t give them the things that she used to be able to do.
“We’re living in a cold house trying to keep turning the central heating on at a bare minimum. I usually turn the heating on for an hour in the morning and again in the evening at bedtime, that’s if I’ve got credit because I’m on a prepaid meter”
She went on to say that her health is suffering most likely because she’s cold and because she often doesn’t eat meals, if she does it’s a bare minimum. “I can’t afford to eat as well as my children and they always come first”
I asked her how she keeps warm when the heating isn’t turned on. “I wear layers of clothing and I have a thick blanket that we all snuggle under. I’ve got a little fan heater that I use just to keep the chill off because I don’t want the children to become ill and even that’s a struggle. Once I run out of credit on my meter that’s it it’s gone and I can’t afford for that to happen”
She told me that she often takes the children to the library that has a warm area and her children can have a look at some books and she can have a free cuppa.
However she continued to say that sometimes she found this very difficult because she doesn’t always want to be around other people..
I asked her if she had visited a food bank recently and she said yes she has and is now dependent upon them even though it’s still a struggle saying that they’ve been a lifeline for her and her children.
But despite getting help from food banks they don’t cover all of her food and every day living costs so she has to try and fill the gaps in.
“I’m always topping up my energy meters, I’ve never had this problem before. It’s bad, really bad I just wish that it wasn’t like this”
I signposted her to several organisations that might be able to help her but this is only a sticking plaster.
Whilst the government sits back and causes the suffering of those most vulnerable her experience is going to be repeated time and time again
Their inhumane policies will undoubtedly cause malnutrition and hypothermia related illnesses and worse.
Undoubtedly there will be recorded deaths of those suffering like this but how many will actually be reported as so.
Every death related to this needs to be reported and spoken about in parliament. The government is knowingly causing the suffering of thousands if not millions and they need to be reminded of this every single day.
This shouldn’t be happening at all.
I will continue to share the experiences of those that I interview in future blogs, hopefully weekly.
If you would like me to use your story get in touch I’m happy to do so.
Let’s be clear no one should be forced to live like this.
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