POVERTY CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE
I didn’t manage to say very much on Channel 5’s The Big Benefits Row, beyond an opening remark about people not being able to just rock up to a food bank with a carrier bag and help themselves. I started to talk about the Trussell Trust when Edwina Currie, also on my panel, cut over me to talk about my grandfather’s circumstances.
I wanted to say that poverty is almost indescribable to Edwina and co with their blinkered, self-righteous attitudes. That turning off the fridge because it’s empty anyway, that sitting across the table from your young son enviously staring down his breakfast, having freezing cold showers and putting your child to bed in god knows how many layers of clothes in the evening – it’s distressing. Depressing. Destabilising.
Imagine living for 11 weeks with no housing benefit, because of “delays”. Imagine those 77 days of being chased for rent that you can’t pay, ignoring the phone, ignoring the door, drawing the curtains so the bailiffs can’t see that you’re home, cradling your son to your chest and sobbing that this is where it’s all ended up. It feels endless. Hopeless. Cold. Wet. Day after day of “no”. No we aren’t looking for staff. No there isn’t anything else to eat. No I can’t put the heating on. No I haven’t got any money to pay my rent arrears. No, no, no.
I wasn’t, as Edwina hissed in an aside, “a rich girl pretending to be poor”. I was alone, with nobody to “pretend” to. You become adept at keeping up appearances, at smiling and saying you’re fine. It was almost a year before I was referred to a food bank for help, almost a year of searching for work, holding my home and my son together at the seams with an iron will.
I’ve never claimed anywhere that my family were “poor”. They weren’t “rich” either. As a child, I had dinner on the table and always had clean clothes. We had a holiday once a year in a caravan in Devon or Yorkshire, and the occasional foray to Ireland. I went to a grammar school, not with any coaching or private tuition, I just sat the entrance exam aged 10 and was offered a place. I struggled at that school, grades gradually getting worse each year, until I dropped out with not enough GCSEs to take A-levels. I went to work in a shop at the age of 16.
My grandfather, who died in late 2012, ran some guest houses in Southend-on-Sea. I’ve no idea what his fortunes were or weren’t – he was just my grandad. A man dressed permanently in a blue boiler suit covered in paint and plaster, and the same battered walking boots similarly accessorised. A man who peered over the top of his glasses to read the Mirror at the Formica dining table with plastic-covered chairs. He drove an old D reg Ford pickup truck, and smoked stingy roll-ups one after the other, swigging Aldi lemonade.
As a teenager, I spent weekends at the guest houses, frying eggs and making tea and pulling countless bedsheets through an old creaking laundry press. Guests drifted in, but not many. It didn’t occur to me when I was unemployed and sitting at that Formica table tucking into beans on toast and hot, sugary tea, to ask my grandad if he might be worth a bob or two and if he could bung me some. I was ashamed, so ashamed, of my situation, that I bottled it up inside and tried to keep up appearances as best I could.
Poverty can happen to anyone. That’s why I unsettle some of the stalwarts of the Tory party. Because their rhetoric of “work hard and get on” can fall apart in the blink of an eye. I worked hard. I got on. And I still spent a year and a half scrabbling around in a festering pit of depression, joblessness, benefit delays and suspensions, hunger, and the entrenched, gut-wrenching fear that I was failing as a parent.
I have no idea how much Edwina Currie thinks my grandad was worth. To me, he was the man who taught me to swear, to fry an egg, and to argue my case.
Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe
Published in The Guardian, 19th Feb 2014 by Jack Monroe. Click here for the original article.
Thank goodness you have the ability to voice what so many of us who work with those in poverty know. It does happen to anyone. Some people are born into it, some make decisions that cause it, and for others it is external. Regardless of the cause, it is people who are in it. And more of the power brokers need to treat “the poor” as people.
If society could understand the dire straights of poverty perhaps they’d be less judgmental. And then it may have been acceptable to ask for help, even from those close whose judgment is the one we most fear.
Keep talking Jack, especially if others talk over you.
I think you held your own very well – EC did not come out looking very good to most of us. I love your blog and recipes, if you hadn’t been on show I would have missed out on knowing about it and you. So bloody well done!
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Jack, you don’t need to explain anything to us about your family. That’s your business. So chin up and forget about ec, I have. Linda xx
Yes, you can have a degree, have a good job for a big company, have a nice house and a company car. Go on holiday to Florida, and the first day back at work after the holiday of a lifetime, be told that you are being made redundant. And be on the dole for for 18 months. No car, and have to explain to the school that you need free school dinners. And be refused as you don’t have ‘the form’. Go to the grammar school and take receipts for the school uniform to claim the money back. It can happen to anyone reading this because this happened to me.
This post has “Feb 2013” in the title, but I think you meant “Feb 2014”. Feel free to delete this 🙂
Paul, what was the point of that! It beggars belief what people will pick at. Jacks blog is about showing how she coped from then till now. No-one ever pointed out that you had to have a diploma just to put over your point. Concentrate on helping to change things instead of nit picking insignificant details!
I don’t know Paul but would have thought he was just trying to be helpful by pointing out a typo and giving Jack a chance to correct it (hence ‘feel free to delete this’ and smiley face…). Better for someone on here to ‘nit pick’, than the Mail turning it into a ‘she can’t even get the basic facts right’ or something.
He was only pointing out the oversight! Not being critical as such. It amazes me that such an innocuous comment can cause offence!
Get over it!!
Calm down. Paul is just trying to help, there is no wickedness in his intent. Jack is trying to make a serious point and that is potentially undermined by a minor error. Witness the myriad of “Grauniad” attacks on the comments page in the Guardian for an example of how editorial errors can undermine and derail even the most cogent of arguments. Paul is helpfully pointing out an error, nothing more.
Reblogged this on Adventures in Housing and commented:
As usual, Jack Monroe is spot on.
It’s a rare day that the elite become poor Jack. Very rare. The fact is work hard and get on is the same as Arbeit macht Frei just 70 years later. We, the people are what it’s all about, yet we the people who, like you and me and a few others in the great scheme of things in this country keep trying. Respect and admiration to you and a hug when your down. Xx
I have to be honest I saw jack on the benefit show and was really pleased and could not wait to hear what she had to say. I even stopped looking at the net to listen. Then that stupid pompous women kept talking over jack and insulting her she would not even let her reply to one insult before making another I thought that was so rude.
I know from my own experience how a promising future can turn into a dark hole from one day to another. I recovered and got my act together, but never forget the people who were telling me down and giving me advise about things they knew nothing about. If someone is going thru a hard time either help them with a genuine smile or with some groceries,but never preach to feel better about yourself.
your wealth or poverty isn’t who you are but many people can’t see further than your bank account and other possessions.
Goodo Jack, yes it can happen to anyone and one day when a few of those rich Tory thieves get sacked from their jobs we’ll see how they manage but then again they’ll probably be stashing ill gotten funds now for when they do. Pity there wasn’t a pot for the desperately poor to dip into. They are stealing and the majority of them are loaded and spend more on one meal out than what most of us spend on a weeks groceries, its disgusting and for them to sit on a panel and preach, my god you have to laugh
Keep up the fight Jack more people than not are behind you
It’s not so much that it *can* happen to anyone so much as it *does* happen to anyone.
Any modicum of respect I had for EC disappeared the minute she opened her mouth on that show. She really did show herself for what she is, a mean, bitter and twisted old lady with no idea of the real world around her … hey I guess that’s why she does so well in the world of politics!!
If you think about it your granddad giving you the ability ‘to swear, to fry an egg and argue your case’ is what has been your backbone through all this , well done granddad and well done to you.
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Poverty can happen to anyone
They’ll always be waiting to knock you down, Jack. You know what you’re worth and how hard you’ve worked for it….they are not happy with your success and are also looking for more personal column inches not caring who they tread on to get them. You’re doing great.
Thank you for being so honest Jack,
I am a commercial surveyor made redundant 3 times since the recession hit in 2008. I’ve been claiming job seekers allowance for the past 15 months and I’ve long ago lost count of the number of jobs I’ve applied for. Fortunately, I start work again next week, but not as a surveyor, and on the lowest salary I’ve earned in 25 years.
I’ve probably made some bad decisions but I certainly didn’t choose a life on benefits and, actually those benefits on their own would have left me more than destitute. Without the consistent help of a very supportive charity I would have lost my home and my hope. I’m too ashamed of my circumstances to even give my name.
Maybe some people do claim benefits fraudulently but I’m sure they’re not the majority. The statistics simply don’t hold up.
We all need to look very seriously at the causes of poverty in the UK. I’m sure, if we did, we would find some very different answers to the obvious ones trotted out by the press and career politicians.
Why has the gap between the richest and poorest grown so much?
Why couldn’t the billions of pounds spent propping up the banks have been put into the wider economy?
Why can’t the country afford to pay for useful training courses for people on job seekers allowance?
Why do private landlords get tax relief on their mortgage interest when house prices are already far too high?
Why do people keep saying that pensioners are benefits claimants? They aren’t, that’s what they’ve paid their national insurance for all their lives!
Why can’t so many normal people earn a decent living wage?
Why does the government pretend that 0 hours contracts on minimum wages are real jobs?
Why is the cost of housing so high?
Why are our politicians so out of touch with what’s actually happening in our country? And, who the f**k do I vote for next time?
Hardly anyone really wants to live under the breadline on benefits.
Instead of picking on easy targets the country needs some real policies for serious investment in industry and construction.
Can’t we please stop wasting our time on misdirected arguments and instead focus on getting the country back to work in REAL jobs with REAL wages. I really don’t care if the boss earns £10 million a year as long as I can enjoy a decent standard of living in exchange for my hard work.
Seriously good points made there, sorry to hear about your circumstances but good luck at the new job next week x
Totally agree with your final Q: who to vote for. Not a blimmin’ clue now, they’re all as bad as each other…
Anon, good luck with your new job. And you have nothing to be ashamed of. I think your post is spot on.
Good luck with your job. I think you’ve got a really good point with the question who to vote for. So many people don’t vote because there is no one with any good policies that address the problems that so many people are facing. If I understood politics more I would try and start a new political party myself.. Though I could probably lead a group of toddlers to be a better government than any of the current options… :/
I second what Coral has said above. 2 years ago the recommendation was to have 3 months salary in savings in case of unemployment. How many in work now have that cushion of 3 months saved ? and 3 months salary would be a minimum, soon gone before you learned to live on less, and the other half gone with housing benefit delayed 3 months.
Why on Earth does it matter what your grandad was ‘worth’ anyway, even if he were a billionaire, that’s him not you.
I am very lucky never to have been where you were. We came very close once. I rang the council telling them we could be made homeless in a matter of weeks. Silly woman that I was, I assumed the state would be there for me and my 2 year old and my husband. I was told in no uncertain terms we would not be given housing. I faced the prospect of us either living in a car (if we still had it) or thankfully a friend who lived in a tiny terraced house with her husband and two kids would take us in. This is when you find out who your friends are. It never happened to me but the fear was real. I want no one in our very rich country to ever be cold or hungry. Thank you Jack for giving a voice to everyone who needs it.
Yesterday we were told inflation was down, today it’s unemployment. The election campaign has started. Keep saying this, Jack, because you never know, there might just be some people around whose memories are so short that by this time next year they will have forgotten. I know it seems unlikely but it happens, time after time after time.
Well said. I’m fed up with tribal politics. Mainly because all it does is help maintain the status quo. People have good ideas on both sides of the political divide. When will the politicians start doing useful things insetad of scoring easy political points against each other while keeping things just the way they are?
As an aside I must say that I like the sound of your grandfather, I think we would have got along well. 🙂
This is happening to me at the moment, I am a qualified nurse but not working due to mental health problems. My ESA and Housing Benefit has stopped due to the 365 rule.
I have applied for income related ESA and informed my landlord and filled in Housing Benefit forms. My daughter has suspended her Maths Degree at Kings College London because she is worried about me. The whole thing is making me very ill!
same – I am/was a qualified RGN (ITU) and Midwife – had to give up work due to caring responsibilities and then single motherhood.. getting back as a single parent is next to impossible…i would love to return to work and find a decently waged way to utilise my considerable skills, but cant afford to return to practice since i would have to turn my 3 year pre project 2000 qualification and 18 month midwifery diploma into degrees in order to practice.. I have had some serious mental health issues also, ptsd and severe distress and exogenous depression resulting in substance abuse and addiction issues…. incapacity benefit was stopped in nov 2012 (hands up i thought it was fair enough, ostensibly well and coping and clean time > decade – – foolishly believing i would be supported into sustainable and suitable work) since then I have been on jsa, enterprise allowance, esa, self employed, working tax credit, jsa again, esa again now waiting for a decision AGAIN for ESA meanwhile sitting on a notice to seek possession of my council home for non payment of rent, court summons for non payment of council tax, and bailiffs distress warrant for non payment of tv licence fine. meanwhile i have two little girls 8 and 13 to raise. this year i turn 50. my mum was a nurse all her life, from 18 to her late 70’s she bent over backward to ensure our elderly and vulnerable were cared for with love and respect they deserved, even in her spare time, her days off were often dedicated to ensuring elderly neighbours and vulnerable local residents had a good breakfast, and were clean, comfy and set up for the day.. yet the system is set up so that caring for my mum in turn is left to strangers. there is nothing i can claim or budget for that will enable me to stay with my mum in her own need.. and after all her years of dedication, she will die a pauper without any property to her name.
Edwina really does mess it up when her mouth opens. I am fairly sure Norma Major would have something to say about dredging up past family history, eh? You didn’t play that card, because you, Jack, are the better person. Unlike me, who thinks she is a hypocritical, judgemental toff with not a f**king clue.
Keep it up, chic.
I understand where your coming from having brought three children up on my own with a very limited amount of money and even when I was working full time by the time I had paid for childcare and rent along with council tax we often drifted into the red. If the children where sick I had to take unpaid time off work which didn’t look good. If the childminder was sick again unpaid time off work. I grew up in a an environment where poverty was the norm watching my mum struggle to feed us and running out of toilet roll at the weekends. Never having the chance to stay on at school and study A levels in order to go to university and better myself instead I wound up in the same cycle. Its ok for everyone to judge and condemn us but until you are living in that cycle of desperation and utter dismay no one can judge or point their fingers. Is it really ok to make a single parent work as many hours as possible in order to make ends meet? Yet while they are multi tasking and slogging their guts out their child misses out on quality time with them. I never wanted to be a single parent. Circumstances beyond my control pushed me into that role. It can happen to anyone. Thankfully now in my 40s I am in my last year of my English degree whilst working part-time and we manage just about. The good thing is my eldest is also at university and is working hard to better herself along with middle child. I hate the way this society assumes that we want to live on the breadline on benefits. I can think of nothing worse. I want my children to grow up with the knowledge that hard work does pay but sometimes circumstances change and knock you down this is when the support should be there to pick you back up and help you balance things out. No one should be condemned for being on the poverty line. With the help of education people can better themselves. With the help of more jobs and more industry out their people can better themselves. With the help of a decent government working to ensure education, better child care facilities, work placements and support available to those vulnerable people in our society. Only then will this divided society work together as one. While this government continues to cut benefits add room tax and condemn single parents and the disabled whilst increasing the pay rates for the more profitable members of the society the divide will continue to widen and the vulnerable will continue to suffer.
Well said Jack! It’s a shame you weren’t give the opportunity to say some of this in the TV programme.
Good God she said enough!
You don’t have to justify yourself. You came over as polite (and, indeed very restrained) and your point about foodbanks showed that you had the facts on your side. Ms Currie came over as mean-spirited and ill-mannered. You won.
‘rich girl pretending to be poor’ is a common insult and a recurring theme in lives such as ours. ignore. its just ignorance or paranoia mostly both. being a ‘professional poor person’ annoys the hell out of people from both sides of the debate.. as if you are not qualified to comment the moment you have an income you are out of the game.. problem being those without an income dont get a voice…unless its a condescending approval of how to be a good poor person demonstrating thrift and deprivation as appropriate to those depending on handouts… and behave accordingly. they dont like it when people start listening as if you’ve somehow chosen poverty as a way of life, ive been in and around poverty all my life and I’ve yet to meet a single person pretending to be poor as a way of looking cool. ive put up with these sort of insults since 1980 and still get the occasional insult along those very same lines.. working with a mental health service users group I came up against a paranoid schizophrenic who was convinced my mother was the biggest landowner in the south east of England and I was just pretending to be poor as a spy for a shadowy eco-organisation.. he was a tory voter…. of course being poor and ‘getting down with the people’ .. is all i ever dreamed of…. HA! the very idea! its just their way of fighting off the notion that indeed poverty CAN happen to anyone, that not only are there a feckless few drinking and smoking away taxpayers hard earned money,(suggest education and jobs might be key here, not just profiteers mining the jobseeker market to pay for the new yacht whose ‘results’ amount to nothing but fraud) but actually poor people can be perfectly nice, bright, educated and resourceful… gasp! maybe even middle class!
Edwina is just a Tory troll. I would refuse to appear with her in future, and that other troll. You’re the one they want on their programme, not the trolls. You pull in the audience, not the trolls. Don’t feed the trolls!
I’m one of the people who had a good job (business management), my own house etc. Ill health, disability and caring for my elderly mother combined to affect my health to the point where my doctors (yes, I had several) told me I had to stop working. I lost my income, my home and (a few years later) my mother. I was one of the people affected so badly by ATOS and indeed ended up having a breakdown on top of everything else. My grandmother was wealthy…that was her, not me, same as you an d your grandad. I say all this to emphasise your point that this can happen to anyone. I never, for one moment, thought that it would happen to me, but it did. Edwina Currie should be ashamed of herself for her behaviour and you should be proud of yourself for the way you handled her. There are many more people who wanted to hear what you had to say (remember the audience reception!) than what she wanted to spout. You do an amazing job at speaking for the silent majority Jack, keep going girl x
You feed your audience with much more than food. Thank you for carrying your message. Here, on this side of the pond, I sit, with a Master’s degree, unemployed in a society ruled by people who believe slashing food and unemployment benefits will give “the poor” motivation to get out there to find those jobs that don’t exist.
I’m fighting back by trying to create my own job out of thin air and gumption. And perhaps, when I’ve vaulted the many hurdles I must clear, I’ll be able to join you in your fight from my own platform–battling in parallel.
Respect jack for your sensible grounded ideas – enjoyed your contribution to any questions – and for making food what it should be – enjoyable nourishment – rather than a forum for male egos – who fed them for goodness sake!
I wonder will jack change her politics when she finds herself paying super tax from the proceeds of her cookbook? now that’s food for thought!
People who don’t want to listen will always find a way to stop you being heard, and undermining your experience is one of them. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win : Did the fact that Ghandi trained as a lawyer invalidate his contribution to world peace? If you didn’t have something important, that needs saying, no matter who you are, then none of this would be here! And thanks for the recipes : so sick of TV chefs cooking with hunks of meat at 50 quid a pop!
Jane, if you followed Jack, and heard her on Any Questions you would know she got paid a fair sum for her Sainsbury’s adverts, and took a weeks living wage from them with the surplus going to charities. Her book may make a few pounds, she will be very lucky if she can make a wage from it as most books may bring in slightly less than JSA.
~Sniping at her is now water off a ducks back, she has seen off more influential people than you and reading your comments will probably just sigh and think why don’t you stay under your bridge.
Penny, respect, a lot of others have been in your situation including me, and if my wife had not had a pension from work when she died I would have been homeless after nursing her for 15 years at 65. Keep smiling through the tears, it is what keeps you going. xx
Well said, Keith. Keep on smiling x
Reblogged this on Making Disciples in an Emerging Culture.
I live in America, Davenport, Iowa. I’m 61 year old writer. I’m homeless for a year and a half. It can happen that quick.
Agreed, recently lost my 24 year old nephew to the streets. He died in a cold abandoned building on drugs. Breaks my heart that we couldn’t do more to provide him the help he needed.
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In the US, all too often “rich girl pretending to be poor” comes out as “but you’re not black; white people aren’t poor.” The most pathetic thing is, it usually comes out of the mouths of REAL rich white girls who don’t like discovering that poverty isn’t entirely monopolized by people they consider themselves safely apart from.
So no one, neither conservatives nor liberals, likes learning that poverty can happen to anyone. Conservatives would rather be in denial, and liberals don’t give a damn about anyone poor unless they function well as progressive arm candy.
I have always maintained that most of us are just one paycheck away from poverty. It can happen at any age…I had a successful career during my years as a single parent, then a change of government ended my career – the government didn’t support social housing and so my career in that field ended. I became a speech writer and did quite well until the same party (Conservative) got elected at the federal level and that was the end of my speech writing career. I struggled to find part time jobs to make ends meet -, like you too proud to reach out for help…once I came close to tears when I applied for unemployment insurance benefits and was told I was 13 hours short to qualify. It was a humbling experience but I came to appreciate the struggle that many single parents and families face on a daily basis. I volunteered at the local food bank…heard the stories and saw the desperation on their faces. Poverty is not kind.
You seem like a cool person, Jack.
Great post and yes, one can’t know poverty by merely looking at a person. And yes, poverty is exhausting when living conditions are cold, not enough healthy/diverse food, etc. We do need not to be afraid to simply state our experience in 1-2 sentences that zone in directly on inability to feel safe/healthy/warm and calm when poor.
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Be grateful for what you have and reach out to the less fortunate.
I am mexican, 41 years old, father of three kids and I am unemployed since five months ago. Things have been so hard these months that I was even thinking on becoming a thieve ir drug dealer or anything else that would allow me to earn some money to buy food. I have a lot of debts, my wife wasvat thevedge if desperation just one day ago and I dont blame her, but I had to keep my self together yo avoid a discussion and makebthe dituation even worst. Now it seems that a light is starting to tilt at the end of the tunnel. I got two replies about my cv, two promises of job interviews next week and the next one. I have asked for to God for a job so many nights, that I think he have heared them out.
The goid think is that I have learned to love my family, helped my wife out with home duties. I have even learned to cook chicken soup, hot cakes and other dishes.
Poverty happens all the time, the key is to keep on fighting, dont get desperate, hold on as much as you can, dont hook up on endless discussions with your wife/husband and dont lose the focus, concentrate on your goals, be patient and believe in God.
It took me 14 months to get back in to work fala1972. But, I got there in the end. Keep going….
By the way, sorry if I’m speaking out of turn but, you shouldn’t have to struggle with debt. Speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau and come to an arrangement with your creditors. The law takes the view that you can only pay what you can afford. I came to a temporary agreement where I paid just £1 per month (to each creditor) until my circumstances improved.
When you’re low it’s too easy to put this off but, the longer you leave it the worse it gets. I can’t describe how much of a relief it was to get a grip on my debts and be able to focus on finding work insted of worrying about every brown envelope.
Try to avoid paid for debt services – there is good free support out there.
Good luck and God Bless.
Great thinking! Good article about poverty!’
Poverty is mostly caused by political leadership in power.
Through the practice of corruption lead to war and war can vandalize the process of progress in society.
Anyone can be poor. We should help in anyway we can.
Well written. Great post!!
Brilliant article. Poverty can hit people at any time. I have seen friends of mine, perfectly skilled and experienced, lose their jobs at the age of 40 who are unable to find a new one due to their age and they are now literally living on the breadline. It is a sad state of affairs that so many companies value youth over experience these days and almost force people into poverty.
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We live through life the best we can. What I liked was the fondness you showed with your Grandfather. I am a Grandfather and I understand that above all. Keep going he would be proud of you.
Reblogged this on ahmedshukrii's Blog and commented:
what a story
I’m moving out west soon as a writer. Skid row could be my life in a matter of months. Hey, ya gotta do what you can for your art.
Reblogged this on Tarek Elbakry's Blog and commented:
Its worth to read anytime & anywhere!
I think it says a lot when politicians’ answer to people saying “I can’t afford to feed my children or myself, I can’t get a job and benefits aren’t enough to live on” is “oh, just ask daddy for a handout”.
Very true. I’m what’s left of the Vietnam war. Our family had a family business and did well. When the war came to us, everything was.lost, friends killed or never heard from again, family members disbanded to far corners of the Earth. Our livelihood, was the the least of our worries. One day you may have everything then nothing, very random. I remind ny children everyday to live, enjoy but work work and be modest and moderate as nothing good can last forever but also nothing bad can last forever.
Remember the film “To Kill A Mockingbird” starring Gregory Peck? The message is still relevant. The world hasn’t changed all that much. Thanks for heightening our awareness.
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As an American I was raised on that ‘work hard and get on’ attitude. While part of me always considered Britain a ‘welfare state’ in comparison I have been grateful to experience what I thought was a kinder place to live and to be exposed to a broader set of ideas. Your story indicates that there are serious holes in the support network I thought existed here. While I still think people should work and pull their own weight I also think that society has the obligation to make sure that people can work and can get on and that there is a safety net for those who cannot fend for themselves. I was shocked by two things your story revealed: that the administration of the benefits system is so slip-shod and that someone with your obvious literacy and numeracy skills couldn’t find a job. Yours is a very scary story and I applaud your courage in standing up to tell it. I think your Grandfather would be proud of you.
It still astounds me that 200-odd year old political rhetoric based on outdated science is still being used to prop up a hierarchy of class that is so rooted in prejudice and ignorance. In both the US and the UK this dream-world notion of a pure meritocracy is causing so much damage to so many people.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have family who keep a warm roof over our heads, but I know what you mean. I’m currently unemployed and on food stamps here in the USA. I’m applying everywhere I can, with no results all year. I have relatives who bring up fast food like I haven’t tried it yet. In their minds, fast food is always hiring, so since I’m not working, I must not have tried it yet. I’ve tried EVERY fast food place, janitorial position, factory, etc. that I can find time and time again! From my personal experience, no one understands until they’ve gone through it.
You know, there are scores of us with the same sort of stories. I was unemployed but unlike a lot of people, I happened to have a whole lot of extra cash behind me. After along time, it ran out and I went into the red. Thankfully I found a job finally after countless interviews…some for positions that hadn’t opened up yet.
Common sense says, “Forget the management jobs…just get a job as ______________.” Everytime I applied, the HR type would look at my resume and say…”You are all wrong for this position! You should be interviewing for this management role!”
5 interviews later, I lost the chance at the original job AND the newer position they directed me to.
Hang in there and be positive.
Everyone is 2 or 3 poor choices away from being on the street. Dont be naive society, it isn’t impossible for it to happen to you.
it happened to me
I’m only judgmental when taxes become so high that I too, will become poor. When that time comes, I will stop working and let others take care of me also.
Reblogged this on Daily Creative Action and commented:
This is such a good story that touches on one of the topics I mentioned in my blog the other day. I had to share her well put answer to people’s bias against those people having trouble for reasons we don’t know. Many of us have had bizarrely difficult times and there wasn’t much we could have done to prevent it at the time. In hindsight we might see ways we could have changed it sooner, but you cannot regret your decisions and sometimes it is not easy to think logically about some things.
No one is immune to poverty~ I remember my Grandparents talking about The Great Depression and how they dealt with it. My grandparents told me this secret that stuck… Stop whining, work even harder and don’t give up. Harsh words. “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing . Mark Twain~
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Poverty has never been an issue for me but that’s because my father worked day and night to do it. I was fortunate from the time I was born but I have heard stories of my parents’ struggle. Realizing how much they have done for me makes me love them even more.
We must reestablish a system where friends, relatives, churches, private charities and limited local government help the poor. Big government creates poverty, keeps people poor and solves nothing. Government is the problem.
Reblogged this on Dark Skin Problems.
So important issue to put emphasis on!!! Please take my 100% support.
reblogged on dailycreativeaction.wordpress.com
I was just mentioning some of this on my blog, the bias of society against those in trouble is bizarre and wrong. There are people in trouble because they are lazy, but in this economy there are many there despite their work, education, dedication, and intelligence. When a company wants a cheaper employee what does the educated, experienced worker that has devoted their time to this place do? These are situations that tend to grow more difficult before they improve. It is not simple to turn your life around and start over, and if you do it more than once it is worse. Possible, of course, but that doesn’t feel helpful right then to those people.
most things can happen to anyone
doesnt take much
luck is all
its like there is someone ticking off the list of things to happen whilst looking around
look at your friends and people you have met or known over your life and chances are you’d be able to tick the list off too
poverty is one of the cruelest
especially in a class-obsessed county like england
oh, and no-one in their right mind – who doesnt live in a protective bubble – actually believes a word the tory party say do they?
This was a very great read, interesting and perfectly written.
(if this post inspired you all to help the homeless then please continue reading )
I know this blog will get a lot of hits, so please don’t be mad at me for trying to spread the word on my friends fundraiser. Please just take the time to visit the page, and if possible, please share. Thank you.
Yes it can. Most of us are a couple of paychecks away.
Hear, hear. Been there, done that. I had middle-class parents, whatever that means, but my father had made it very clear there would be no help forthcoming when I decided to become a single mother. That was okay, I could work, however I had to go on medically ordered leave after trying to go back to work when my daughter was 6 months old, and I can remember being treated like a criminal by the social workers when I tried to apply for assistance. It wasn’t until I made an appointment to give my daughter up for adoption and was sitting in this woman’s office crying my eyes out and clutching my child, and she wanted to know why I wanted to give my child up and I told her I couldn’t get any help and couldn’t feed her that I finally got some assistance. But I’ll never forget the heartbreak of knowing I was going to lose my child nor the subsequent squeezing of every penny and going hungry when you couldn’t stretch it to cover both of you. Fortunately by the time she was 18 months old I was able to return to work, and was able to find some, and things got better, but I’ll never forget.
Reblogged this on The World's Chronicle.
The headline of your article is that “Poverty can happen to Anyone!!!!111!!!”, but you never made this anything but a bare assertion in your article. All you did was talk about having to close your curtains, so the bailiff couldn’t see that you were home (imagine that, having to walk two metres to close your curtains before turning on your Sky+ box).
Your headline was just a platform to bang on with your anti-Tory rhetoric and satisfy your victim complex.
0/10 for honesty
0/10 for thinking you could get away with it
I don’t have – and never have had – a sky box. Nice try though.
0bama would be so very proud of the “I’m a victim” excuse.
Oh and I’ve just seen you’ve moderate the comments. Can’t handle the truth?
Edwina?? is that you?
Shame is what people make us feel in the eyes of others who are quick to judge having not yet taken the fall.
Loved the sincerity in this article
what can we do
“I have no idea how much Edwina Currie thinks my grandad was worth. To me, he was the man who taught me to swear, to fry an egg, and to argue my case.”
Your grandad was a good man. He taught you what was needed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the story.
Edwina Currie. Vile woman. Never like her since I saw her starring as the witch in the Wizard Of Oz.
Reblogged this on Black Girls Work and commented:
You’re not alone, it can happen to anyone! Feeling down and depressed because you lost your job, have instability, no food on the table. Don’t be ashamed…
Reblogged this on The Greater Fool.
I was in this situation for 11 months, here in Nevada there was no place for men during the winter I made the front page the next day I working in my trade with a place to live. never give up it can happen to anyone.
the rich people never stopped by the wealthy passed me by it was the other homeless people who helped me with everything.
Funny that your Grand Dad tuaght you to fry eggs and Edwina Currie didn’t see the irony, seeing as eggs was her downfall – politically speaking.
Simply wonderful read, thank you.
Excellent read and thank you.
Reblogged this on On The Hustings and commented:
I know exactly where this writer is coming from, right at this moment…
Reblogged this on Lavender Queen Liz.
Well said! The Tories seem to be stuck in the 90s rut. I was a single parent back then, living in poverty during John Major’s ‘back to basics’ era, which was the one where single mums got blamed for the state of the economy because we’d all got pregnant on purpose to get a council house! Sadly, I still hear things like that being said. I wonder if they would still believe it if they lived in a council estate on benefits? Out of touch.
Being in Australia and not much for watching the news and the like I am not sure about the people you are referring to.
What I can comment on is your situation happens all around the “1st World Nations”. Not only have I seen it but, I’m pretty much living it. Almost 2 yrs ago I moved out of government housing to try to give my daughter & I a better life and one that wasn’t surround by violence or the never ending edge of violence. We got there via shelters and I did get assistance in going into private rental but, rent isn’t cheap. I struggled to find a job, then students to rent out a room too until we had to move to somewhere cheaper. That shldve solved it but, work hours started reducing often and I live constantly unknowing if rent will be paid enough to keep eviction at bay. I had to withdraw money from my retirement (called superannuation here) to pay the nearly 3 months I was behind. I’ve to constantly struggle & scrimp but, it’s still usually not enough. I’m still not sure what’s going to happen. I’ve been looking for a more consistent job but, after 4 months – still nothing. As a single mum with no family I can’t take just any job as there is no one to watch my girl at nights or the weekends so, I feel the pain & anguish you went through. The embarrassment & frustration. Like you said – it doesn’t matter who you are related to. Many time they may not help out even if they did have plenty of money themselves. Blessings to you and your little one & I hope you never have to go through it again BUT, part of me hopes this lady Edwina has to get a taste of it. Not the most positive thought but some ppl need hard lessons to learn compassion
Yeah, poverty is a common language that we all speak. In the United States, there is this sense that if you are poor then you are both extremely lazy and/or stupid. If you cannot land a job; there must be something wrong with your fundamental core. It is sick and completely disheartening.
Jobs are scarce and competition is fierce: If you have any secondary education; you are over qualified. If you do not have an education; then you fight it out with other low-level candidates for poorly paid positions.
Politicians in the States pontificate about “Opportunity” however, they have no idea what it is really like to go to a food pantry or to find out that yet another application for work has been denied, they will never know the fear of unemployment benefits running out.
Thank you for your writing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We need voices and faces to unite and share our stories for the world to see, because we absolutely need to break the image of stupid and lazy. We need to shout back at people proclaiming “Corporate Progress,” because there are just too many people suffering.
Great thoughts! I know all too well how things can change in the blink of an eye. As someone who is hovering on the brink of disaster following a devastating house fire, I am very well aware that the predicaments of life are not always under control of the person afflicted. Love your perspective!
God taught me about humility, and poverty, through the mechanism of infirmity. Work never really ends. We just lose good paying professions for poor paying necessary labor to survive. Somewhere in the struggle, we either give up totally, or find ourselves anew. The coat has many colors. Everyone is in a class of his own.
I know a truth and that is the government works to make sure everyone is turned against everyone else they spew shitt many people believe it start looking down on others etc it’s called manipulation there will always be fools that fall for it but count me out I’m no fool by the way love all the posts 🙂
Umm, I worked 80 hour weeks as operation manager for a homeless ministry. It was tough, and there is a lot of stories. A lot of the time though you are stopping fights, keeping the few females there from being raped, and other things of this sort. All I can say to you is do not diss homeless. There are a lot of stories.
I do some work with the homeless. Poverty does not discriminate. I know a homeless man who has a master’s degree, speaks 3 languages fluently, and has been on the street for years. I pray things are turning around for you.
Edwina and the likes havnt a clue as it’s not happened to them . She looked bad and ignorant on that debate . Jack however , rocked . Single mums need you !!!! Been there got the T , no posh education or ” family favours ” you’re what most would want their child or parent to be . Intelligent , non judgmental , compassionate , having worn the said ” T ” Even without kids is hard because we’ve got out of touch , silver spoon fed , greedy theives at the top . Jack for priminister ….. Yes please 🙂
……. I’m a single mum , I feed my kids fruit and veg …..
Good, I’m glad you can, and I’m sure Jack is too. Beyond that, I’m not sure what your point is? Jack certainly isn’t saying that poverty is due to being a single mum….
We are all just one mortgage payment away from disaster – people forget this.
My husband is now retired but four years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. This coincided with a fight with an insurance company over a fire at one of our industrial units. Ultimately, we were forced to put the company into liquidation and enter into IVAs to pay back Directors Guarantees.
My husband recovered, but we found that there was no help out there for us – we became adept at cutting our food bills to the bone, having the occasional haircut at the local technical college, cutting the heating (not easy when one of you is ill). We did manage to fight for redundancy payments that kept the interest-only mortgage payments going until DWP put us onto Pension Credit Guarantee but if my husband had been any younger, we wouldn’t have had that safety net.
We applied for every job going and the answers (when firms were polite enough to bother to give them) were invariably the same…..”you’ve run your own business, don’t think you’d fit with the team”, “you are better qualified than the person you’d be working for” or worse yet “why would you want to stack shelves/work a till…..you’re a Management-type” (I had to bite my tongue after that particular gem)
There were people who ‘dropped’ us as friends – it was almost as if they were afraid that our circumstances were infectious. Those are the things that you don’t forget.
Edwina Currie and her ilk have no comprehension of the kind of things that those of us who are suddenly poor have to do to keep a roof over our heads and survive, hoping every day that an invitation to interview or, even better, a job offer may come through the post. No idea what it is like to have threatening letters from creditors arrive just as you are going up to the hospital to visit your husband the day after his cancer operation. They have no imagination or empathy and they are therefore nothing to me. Karma will get them in the end.
Jack, I’m so glad that I found your blog. You are an inspiration and if I could hug you, I would!
Reblogged this on Politics Not As Usual and commented:
I can understand what you mean by the crippling fear of failing your children. At 24 I had a reasonably ok job as a manager of a shop, a loving boyfriend and life seemed good. When I found out I was pregnant with my child I was over the moon, but then I split up with my partner, and now with a young baby couldn’t work with maternity pay fast approaching its end. Once you’re on benefits, you can become stuck. You can’t work as you’ll be giving up hundreds of pounds in benefits and paying hundreds in child care, so unless you’re going straight in to a very high paid job, by working you’ll be making yourself poorer. Everything is a struggle, everything has delays and rules upon rules which somehow you always don’t seem to meet, you’re stuck struggling to pay the bills, the overdrawn charges adding on top of the rent arears and red letters piling up. Constant worry, worrying when there’s a knock at the door, a call on your phone, worrying every month how you’ll pay everything, worrying how you’re gonna eat, 3 nappies left, where’s the money coming from for more? Worrying about the quality and quantity of your children’s meals though you’re trying as hard as you can, wondering how long you can live on toast alone without getting sick… The thing is, most people now days don’t think real poverty exists. With the papers always spouting stories of benefit cheats and their thousands of pounds they’re getting and making people who don’t work out to be scroungers and lazy, to the average person they think its really easy to get yourself out of the hole, and that by being poor it must be by some major fault of your own. Most people don’t understand the reality and shame of living in poverty until they end up there themselves. Thanks for trying to be a voice of all of us that have or still are in that situation.