Poverty in the UK in 2018? Of course it exists, and appears to be on the increase from all the signs I see! The gap between rich and poor seems to be growing constantly now. That is a massive issue for us in this day and age, and is something I never believed I would still be seeing as an ageing man. This world is a harsh place when you have no money. I can speak from experience here. As a youngster my father moved out, and left my mother with massive debt. We had debt collectors constantly knocking on the door, and I had to leave school to start earning an income.
I was lucky! That experience was positive for me, and I worked night and day after that to ensure my family would never feel so vulnerable ever again. It was going well until I got sick in 2007 and was told I could not work for at least a year! That was a disaster at the time as I was self-employed and didn’t earn if I wasn’t working. Fortunately my wife was earning but our total household income was cut in half immediately. The house, the cars, the phones etc still needed paying, none of the institutions interested that I had incurable cancer.
My body was facing some terrible treatment and all I could think about was how I could pay the bills! That vulnerability I feared had returned, and on top of that my body was in a terrible state physically. If my wife was not earning we would have lost our house and many other things. I have not been able to work since, but my business skills have enabled me to keep the family ship afloat. For many, the reality of cancer related poverty is much worse. This is one side effect of cancer which is rarely discussed with the seriousness it deserves. A lot of families only have one income as standard so if this is lost because of cancer, you can see the problems immediately. This is the main reason that we started simPal. We can’t help with a lot of the finances, but we can help with mobile communication costs.
Below is just one example from our recent batch of applications for support.
“I have a couple in a serious financial problem.
The couple have a going contract – one is a phone and sim, one is just a sim contract. XX are unable to help them as the phone broken is not the one on contract.
The gentleman was working self-employed, full time until his partner was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (stage 3) which has metastasised to the lymph nodes. He has since, over the past 10 months become her full time carer and has had to slowly give up work. He has gone from working 50-hour weeks to barely being able to work 8 hours per week. If he doesn’t work, they don’t get paid. They also have a 17 year old son. Last month they earnt £240. They are in financial crisis. Some months they haven’t even been able to pay their rent. They have been accessing a local food bank and we have provided them with a food parcel however they are only able to access one more food parcel before these stop. They are struggling to pay for cleaning items, this is a necessity they need to keep the property free from bacteria and germs due to her diagnosis and low immunity. The constant cost of travelling to and from the hospital is a financial drain and struggle, including the cost for driving to and from work, when he is able.
The lady has had her Chemotherapy treatment stopped. This this due to a nasty infection in her surgery site from her breast reconstruction. She is currently battling two blood clots in her lung and a lung infection. There the gentleman is not able to leave her for long periods of time as she can need his help to move around. She is struggling to breath and in constant pain.
The lady has had to give her phone to her partner so he is able to use this for work which means she has been left without a phone. This means she does not have the ability to call for help if left home alone.
We are concerned that she isn’t able to call for help, especially due to her recent hospital admissions to A&E due to her difficulty breathing and blood clots.”
There are charities that give one off grants, but nothing that will touch these long term issues. These people need more than cash. They need proper practical help to try and get their lives back on track. Surviving cancer is one thing but surviving a life living WITH cancer is something totally different. We ALL deserve so much better than this current ‘system.’ Where is this cancer support that we hear so much about in the media?
As always, these are my personal views and experiences, please feel free to share your own below.
I am an official support partner of the Grove Hotel in Bournemouth. The only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by cancer and other life limiting conditions.