Posted 27 August 2020
Alison is a single parent of two children, a 20 year-old son and a 14 year-old daughter. She works part-time in a café in the North West of England after a career working for housing...
Posted 19 March 2019
Aneita is a mum to a five year-old daughter. She works part-time as an administrator and lives in London. In her latest blog, she describes the ways Gingerbread has helped her as a single parent.
In 2016, my financial situation changed dramatically when I changed jobs. I thought everything would be okay. I had checked and double checked to make sure but I was not prepared for what happened: my tax credits were stopped.
“You have had your year’s entitlement,” I was told.
I was suddenly plunged into a financial nightmare, not knowing how I was going to pay my bills, feed myself and my daughter, or buy the things my daughter needed such as clothes and shoes.
I would sit alone in the evening with questions flowing through my head and then search the internet for answers. I needed a solution. I needed to know where I could begin to end this. It was during this time I came across the Gingerbread website. There was a wealth of information in front of me including people going through the same things, so I started to get a plan together. I contacted a local adviser, I was helped to sort my finances, and I was referred to a foodbank. I was grateful but I felt so sad.
I remember sitting in a room with my daughter as we waited to be given a food parcel, holding back my tears, not wanting my daughter to see me upset and thinking, ‘How? Why has it got to this?’ Walking home that night with a trolley of food, I felt like a failure, but I also felt for whatever reason this was meant to happen and I would get us out of this, I had to get us out of this. I admit I was scared, I was embarrassed. I did not want to burden my family/friends.
I was going to get us out of this.
A couple of months down the line, we were getting by – struggling but we were keeping afloat. It was a start to climbing back up.
I signed up as a Gingerbread member as I wanted to keep up-to-date with the news and campaigns because most of the issues highlighted on the website related to me and my situation, and gave me hope.
I did a couple of telephone interviews: one was about giving single parents a one-year break from bills if their financial situation changed. This I strongly agreed with because in my situation, I was advised to do a DRO (Debt Relief Order) which, given the choice now, I would not have done because of the after-effects it has on your credit file. I was under so much stress at the time that I now feel I made a bad decision but that is something I must live with and correct as time goes on.
In 2018, I went back to working full-time but I was feeling unfulfilled. I decided that 2019 needed to be different. My skills and experience needed to take on a new meaning, so in December, I started a new part-time job. This freed up some time to pursue other interests and other opportunities. Gingerbread has ignited a passion for me that I have not felt for such a long time.
I received a membership email which asked for single parent stories. I thought, ‘I will give this a go’ and my blog was published. Since then, I have signed up as a spokesperson, been invited to a Single Parent Event at Parliament and I have joined a support/meet up group of friendly single parents. I am now about to launch a meet up/support group myself as there is not one in my local area.
Gingerbread staff are amazing. They have helped me by giving me a voice, giving me the feeling of not being alone, and by working so hard to rid the stigma of single parenthood. I have been given the opportunity to share but also to give back – my reason for what was meant to happen.
Have Gingerbread’s services made an impact on your life? Email us to share your story: email@example.com