I haven’t been sure whether to write about this. It’s intensely personal, embarrassing, exhausting and is contstantly stigmatised. But I was explaining the situation for the first time to a friend and thought perhaps I should blog it.

To try and arrest the stigma, maybe. Anyway, here it is.

My family and I are living below the poverty line.

We receive £198.00 per week (thank you, tax payers) for our family of 4 out of which everything has to be paid. Food clothes, school meals, electricity, gas, BB, mobile bills, kids clothes. Everything.

The boiler broke in October last year and we can’t, obviously, have it fixed. So this winter has been interesting – we all stayed in bed as much as we could and took extra Vit C but it’s not been the most fun I’ve ever had. The children are majestic in their ability to surf everthing thrown at them.

Love does help enormously in these situations and though we’ve had some bitter, hateful rows practically hissing through our teeth at each other (I had no idea how colourful and creative my profanity could be) I can say I don’t think I’ve ever loved my husaband more.

I hear so much anger at the welfare state and I can only talk about how grateful we are for the help. Without it we would be absolutely up the creek.

How did we get here?

Well, the fall from grace is surprisingly easy as it happens.

We lost a lot of money over some bad choices and bad luck.

My husband had a breakdown and can’t return to his profession because teaching played a huge part in it. He is still too anxious to work.

He isn’t always well enough to look after the children (3 and10) which means I can’t take a full time position so instead I’ve have started an independent press that should pay dividends soon.

And we both have pretty hardcore mental health issues.

That’s how easy it is for a family to end up under the poverty line.

How is the poverty line calculated in the UK?

This calculation is used throughout Europe, and is taken to mean households where the income is 60 per cent or less of the country’s median household income, which in the UK is currently around £25,000. So, if your household is bringing in less than about £15,000 a year, you’re in poverty.

We are receive a little over 10k with the tax player’s generosity.

I had never given it proper thought – it’s been tough, of course, but seriously, living with Bi Polar and all it’s interesting variables has made me grateful for the good days, the stable days, the present days.

I am also grateful  for Stirling Publishing and all the help and support I’ve had from writing community. This is year should be amazing with our BAME anthology and Lesley Glaister’s, Aprha’s Child, being published.

I thank God! That I’ve enough ambition to have the energy to pull this off although there are days when I can’t raise my head to do more than a few lines of editing.

My publisher, Unbound, and my amazing editor, Scott Pack, are very understanding but I am continually frustrated with my own lack of consistency.

This post isn’t about pity or sympathy or ‘poor us’.

I’d like to think it’s more about finding yourself in a situation one day that has no resemblance to how you had envisaged your life.

It’s about saying ‘Sod it’, I’ve been lucky enough to have been given gifts – lets use them. Banishing those ‘I’m a middle-aged woman will anyone take me seriously’ thoughts and keep on creating opportunities until you pass out at night with your toddler snoring in your ear.

Most of all it’s about support. All the people that I’m involved with on social media, in real life, in publishing, in writing who have never seemed to doubt I could do these things.

I thank you for that.

We are underneath the poverty line but poverty is not defining us.

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