“I can’t afford to feed my children”

I’m a single parent of four children. My ex-husband left me homeless, but I found a home to rent privately. At the time he gave me £250 a week maintenance, which helped cover my monthly rent. However he recently decided I received enough money to survive on benefits alone and I now receive £37 per week for the children through the CSA. We had an unhealthy and abusive relationship, one I am relieved to be free from as he made me feel selfish for wanting to complete my teaching degree. I’ve just started my first teaching post and am struggling financially as due to payment timings I won’t receive any income from my new post for two weeks. I’m overdrawn and don’t have an overdraft, and am panicking about putting food on the table versus petrol in my car to get to my job. On top of all of this I’m so very lonely. All my friends have partners and families and my kids spend roughly half the time with their dad. I feel so alone stuck in at home weekend after weekend. Help! Toni

Denise says:

Your problems are twofold. The first is your immediate financial situation and second your need to build a new and more fulfilling life for yourself. Is there any chance that your children’s father will give you something to help in this difficult period? If not, I suggest you ring the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000. They will be able to make some practical suggestions. Secondly I would request an interview with your bank. As someone in a secure and responsible job you should qualify for an overdraft facility. Take with you proof of your new status. Do this quickly, before you become more overdrawn. If there is a slight delay in money coming through speak to your local benefits office who may arrange a loan to enable you to feed the children. It also occurs to me that if your husband could afford £250 and is now only paying £37 he may be lying to the CSA about his circumstances. This is something you can take up with the CSA. You have made every effort to gain a qualification and make a life for yourself and your children and deserve help.

I understand about the loneliness and I have several suggestions. You may make friendships at work but your local library will have details of what’s going on in your area. There may be social clubs for people in exactly your situation. You should also have a look at the National Council for the Divorced, Separated and Widowed website or ring them on 07041 478 120. It has good social evenings in most areas at a very cheap price. The aim is friendship rather than a dating club, but romances do happen and they have a lot of fun. It will take time to rebuild your life but it will happen so you have a lot to which you can look forward.

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