Woman with PhD and two jobs forced to use food bank due to cost of living crisis

Perry’s Pantry, a food bank in Didsbury, Manchester, helps more than 50 families struggling to afford to feed themselves in the local area

Trustee Tricia Reilly-Hurst says Perry’s Pantry Foodbank in Didsbury has noticed an increase in referrals due to the cost of living crisis

A woman with a PhD who works two jobs has to rely on food banks due to the surging cost of living in the UK.

Claire (not her real name) relies on weekly food parcels from Perry’s Pantry Foodbank, a service providing food to more than 50 families unable to afford basic living costs in Didsbury, Manchester.

Claire says she’s struggling to cope with her growing debt s, a lack of income, and mental health issues, Manchester Evening News reports.

She first started receiving the parcels last summer after being referred to Perry’s Pantry following a decline in her mental health.

Despite working two jobs and having recently completed her PHD, Claire still found herself without funds for food.

She said: “I started a PhD years ago, then I ended up in hospital, I was sectioned two times in quite a small space of time, and I then had to go back to university part time and I’ve had other interruptions in the middle of it.

Claire says she’s still living with an ex-partner because she can’t afford to move out


Manchester Evening News)

“It’s been very difficult to carry it on alongside work and my mental health.

“I had my funding stopped for that, so I was effectively having to work, but without any income and I’m self employed, having been taken on by a charity as self employed – but it’s effectively a zero hours contract.

“They don’t pay me on time, I have to chase my pay every month, and it’s not very stable work.

“Only the pay sounds OK, I’ve basically been living off £600 a month for the last year.”

Claire’s rent in Didsbury was £725 per month, which she splits with an ex-partner who she continues to live with as she cannot afford to move out, however she was recently told that this would be increasing to £850 per month.

Claire also fears moving may lead her to losing vital metal health support


Manchester Evening News)

She feels trapped in her property as she currently receives support from her local mental health services and moving could mean losing these vital services if she relocates to a different area.

“It’s a nightmare, I don’t know what to do really, I just can’t afford to live, I really don’t know what I’m going to do and I’m already in so much debt just to pay the cost of living.

“I can’t afford to live on my own, I can barely afford to share, we pay half the rent and bills each.

“What worries me most is the uncertainty about it, thinking at the drop of a hat everything could go wrong and I’m one paycheck away from literally not having anywhere to live.

Claire (not pictured) says she has to rely on food banks despite working two jobs


Manchester Evening News)

“I feel like I’m in a survival game. I’ve run out of all of my weapons, my resources and my toolbox is empty and I’m being shot at.

“I’m in a survival game and there’s no way out.”

Meanwhile, Claire has also received a £600 water bill for the last four months.

She describes how her property has leaking taps and, despite repeatedly reporting this to her landlord, they have not been repaired.

Claire says she is being hit by bill after bill


Manchester Evening News)

Claire says the property she rents is in need of more repairs, with damp walls that she believes have given her a chronic cough.

She does not receive any Universal Credit or other government support, because the hours she works are above the threshold for funding.

“I really really struggle to function on a basic level with all of this worry, the rent going up, the electricity bills going up, this massive water bill of £600, and I don’t get any discount on my council tax because I work enough hours to not quite qualify for the support,” she said.

The parcels from Perry’s Pantry Foodbank have become a lifeline for Claire, she says


Manchester Evening News)

“I always fall into the middle of the things where I don’t qualify for benefits because I’m working, but I end up caught in this situation. I remember someone telling me that I would do way better off, just never working and I could claim what I could, but even then that’s not enough for people now either.”

Without the food parcels she receives from Perry’s Pantry, Claire does not think she would be able to afford to eat.

She fears that her landlord might see that she receives parcels and evict her.

“I’ve set up a weekly plan [with Perry’s Pantry] where I pay £3.50 a week and they deliver it.

“Had I not had not that, well, it got to a point where I went to Aldi and my card was declined because I didn’t have enough to pay for what I’d put on the counter, so I had to walk back past everyone and put all of the food back on the shelves.

“It was such a low point, that I think if I didn’t have the weekly food parcels from them, I just wouldn’t have had anything to eat.

“When I get my food bank delivery here, I’m worried my landlord will see it and evict me because I can’t afford to live.

“It’s just relentless, there’s no quality of life here.

“That’s my worry, that it’s going to get worse. This world, I’ve just thought that I have no quality of life with it, absolutely none.”

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