ALICIA’S STORY

“I wouldn’t eat for days so I could keep up payments or just put food on the table for my children.”

I left home at 15. Thought I knew better and wanted to live my life my way. I was pregnant at 18, married at 19 and pregnant again at 20 all whilst suffering domestic violence.

Whilst being stalked by my ex-husband we lived at numerous addresses including hostels. Having enough money to live on has always been stressful. I wouldn’t eat for days so I could keep up payments or just to put food on the table for my children. My family would lend me money but that always came with conditions on how it was spent.

I used loans from the social fund and Provident for carpets and furniture. I also used rent to own furniture stores. Every week was the same…do I pay my loan payment and the money I have borrowed or put food on the table? There was never a week I could make all the payments and cover all the household bills as well. In all of the addresses we lived at I had pre-payment meters for gas and electric so I would pay, and still do pay, over the odds for these.

I managed in time to get a decent job but had to get a Shopacheck loan of £400 to cover the first month’s childcare. That meant I was always starting my monthly wage with half of it gone. I met a lovely new man and financially things were much better, butthen my new husband had a breakdown.  We went from a two wage family to my wage and benefits. We had built up loans from previous, store cardsand credit cards all of which needed to be paid. I was shopping for bare essentials on credit cards like weekly food shopping and petrol. I lost my house my car and my self-respect. We were homeless for eight weeks and I had to give up my job to look after my husband.  His recuperation was slow and I built our lives back up on pennies, eventually working three jobs, five days a week.

I was finally allowed a catalogue account to rebuild my credit rating. They kept upping my credit limit and I now owe money with them just for buying school uniform, footwear and clothing. On top of all that I now have a long term chronic condition and my husband is my full time carer. Between the two of us we live on just over £10,000 a year, at one point that was for five of us. The cost of us all living is one thing, but the constant debt and extra costs we have to pay for not having things like Direct Debit just makes it more of a nightmare.

 

Photographs by Paul Sn, a filmmaker whose work explores the lives of people who have been marginalised or misrepresented by mainstream media.