Jewish single mother: ‘Struggling with the bills takes you to a dark place mentally’

As the kosher cost of living crisis deepens, the JC spoke to one mum


CARDIFF, WALES - MAY 22: A woman holds a basket of goods in a supermarket on May 22, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. Last week, the UK Office for National Statistics reported an 6% average increase of food and drink prices year on year, but some staples, such as milk and pasta, had risen by more than 10%. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

Rachel (not her real name) is a 50-year-old single mother from Hertfordshire. She told the JC: “Being a single parent supporting four children has been extremely challenging financially. Just when I think there might be some light at the end of the tunnel, the cost of living increases dramatically and I find that I am back to square one.

“My energy bills have increased drastically. They are £270 a month combined. Before they increased, I was already in debt to the energy company. When that happens you get put on a meter, which is more expensive. It constantly feels like I’m being punished for being poor.

“When it was colder, I was having to tell the children not to put the heating on but add another layer or sit under a blanket.

“Not being able to pay the bills and support your family is an extremely stressful position to be in and can take you to a dark place mentally.

“I was so desperate one day, after hours of crying my eyes out, that I turned to GIFT to ask for help.

“Knowing I now have help with food packages, tutoring, clothes, food vouchers and their unwavering kind and caring support, gives me the drive to move forward. We get a chicken voucher each week so that I can provide a shabbat meal, because it is impossible to buy kosher when you have no money.

“I find it hard to give the children a balanced meal on a regular day when I can’t even pay our bills. It is not like I am not working.

“I work full time because I want to set a good example for my kids. There have been countless times when I’ve told them mummy wasn’t hungry, so they could eat while I went without.

“I don’t know anyone in my position that hasn’t told their kids that at some point. I lost any sense of pride a long time ago. I wouldn’t be getting help now if I didn’t ask for it.

“My kids know there are no presents on birthdays or holidays, but that doesn’t seem to bother them.

“When we go for a food shop, they always thank me for the food. I don’t know many other children who do that.

“I’m sure they find it difficult seeing their peers go on holiday, but this is our reality. It wasn’t easy before, but it is even harder now.”

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