The cost of living crisis means Christmas is just another day for my family
Kerry, who has multiple health conditions, explains how the high cost of living is affecting her and her family this Christmas.
My house is colder inside than outside. It’s an end of terrace house with concrete floors and old windows. I’ve had to put plastic up in the windows to try and keep warm.
I have arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a long-term lung condition) and chronic pain disorder. I am in pain 24/7.
My chest is always tight and feels like someone is sitting on my chest. I have flu-like symptoms a lot of the time and ache which means I am taking very strong pain killers.
People don’t see my disability
The cold really affects me. If I don’t keep warm, it makes the pain worse and I just ache all over. I used to use heated blankets or sit in a warm bath to ease the pain but I can’t do that now with the costs. Often people don’t see my disability or understand because it’s an invisible illness, but a lot of the time I am fighting through the pain and just trying to get on with things.
My daughter lives with me with her 19-month-old baby and she’s also pregnant, so we go without a lot to make sure the baby has everything it needs and is well looked after. It comes down to: ‘do you put food on the baby’s plate or heat the house?’
Sometimes I lie and tell my daughter I’ve eaten already so she eats. When the new baby arrives, I think we’ll just have to keep the baby’s room warm and use extra bedding for me and my daughter. That way we’re not heating the whole house.
I no longer have breakfast or lunch. We don’t use the food bank locally because I can’t get there and they are short on volunteers to deliver.
We need more government help
I’ve tried to report my cold house to the council, but I feel like they haven’t helped me as much as they could. Now they’ve changed the warm homes discount, I no longer qualify for this because it’s a council house and doesn’t have an energy certificate.
Prices are going up all over. We get help through benefits, but it only goes so far. The disability payments were helpful, but it went straight on my overdraft.
Even though the government put benefits up last year, it’s still not enough. My gas and electricity bill has gone from £100 to £250 a month. I’m £600 behind on energy direct debit. It’s just crazy how much the price as rocketed.
My scooter only costs about a fiver a week to keep charged but that’s £20 a month we could put towards energy bills. As a result, I don’t go out anymore.
It’s crazy that we are one of the richest countries. But people on benefits and lower wages are having to use food banks. People should be better off now than back in the 1950s, not like this.
We can’t afford to celebrate Christmas
Normally I’ve done all my Christmas shopping but not this year. Christmas is usually a big celebration in our house, but now I’ve got two grandchildren on the way, we can’t afford to celebrate. It’s horrible. For us, it’ll be just another day. We can’t even afford a Sunday roast and we’re not eating proper food because junk food is cheaper. And it’ll be the same on Christmas.
It’s sad, it’s meant to be the biggest celebration of the year for a lot of people but I just can’t do it. My grandchildren might get a selection box. And maybe some pyjamas.
I’m just grateful that the children are younger, and they won’t know any different.
Demand more support for disabled people during the cost of living crisis
68% of people with complex disabilities fear they may have to skip meals to cope this winter.
Will you add your name to demand more support for disabled people, like Kerry, in the cost of living crisis?