When I first started my journey as a single parent, I was fairly young. At the time I did not have a support network, my education being secondary school level, and I was on a visa to study English and had to quit my job due to lack of knowledge of the system.
I had not planned to stay in the UK, but my child’s father was British, and I could not simply take the child away. At the time the father was unsupportive of the child’s needs due to his mental health, I did not have anyone to turn to and had to apply for my EU citizenship through my European grandparents. Once my immigration was settled then I decided to apply for benefits. This was denied as I was told I have not worked enough under my new passport.
It took over 8 months between appeals and letters. I had no knowledge of the British system and had to live off my savings, which ran out pretty quickly. I had no idea of my rights, or food banks, or any organizations that could help. A week before my case was overturned, I went hungry as I could not afford to feed myself and my child. I chose my child and only ate toast for a whole week. I was desperate. Luckily, I received a letter saying it was a “human error” and was then approved for benefits.
As time went by, I started to learn about the benefits system and my entitlements as a single mother. I briefly got back together with the father due to feeling isolated. But then I got pregnant again and found myself once again single while pregnant. As we separated for the second time I ended up homeless because, despite paying my rent on time, my landlord was not paying his mortgage. Yet, this time I had more knowledge and was able to seek support from the council.
Once my second child was born and I was stable, I decided I would never go hungry again. I made good use of my entitlements as a single mother, went to university, found a job in my area during my second year of my degree, and managed to juggle both studying and working with the childcare support and student finance I was entitled to.
If I were to give you advice as a single parent, it would be first never to give up and secondly to look for support. There are many organisations out there which can help you and have tons of knowledge. Also, remember you can make use of your local MP.
I proudly finished my degree with a first-class honours and I now work full-time. It was a rocky start without knowledge and support but now I am able to help other people in similar situations to mine. I am very proud of my journey.