A mother has laid bare the difficulties of caring for a disabled child in a large family amid a cost-of-living crisis.

As prices and energy bills continue to rise, The Northern Echo has spent days on the frontline of Britain’s cost-of-living crisis and listened to those struggling to survive, and the people helping them, amid a time when ever-increasing numbers of people will not be able to afford to eat and heat their homes this winter.

The nurse, who did not give her name, says she cannot see how prices will improve any time soon and is cutting back on everyday costs wherever she can.

She is one of dozens of people who travelled to the Angel Trust in Bishop Auckland on Friday to take advantage of the charity’s new pantry and foodbank facility.

It collects surplus food from local supermarkets and businesses and sells it at a reduced cost for people struggling to pay the increasing prices at other stores.

The Northern Echo: The Angel Trust Community Pantry and foodbank. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT The Angel Trust Community Pantry and foodbank. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

The everyday reality of the cost-of-living crisis means families are still coming up short despite working full time partly down to inflated bills. And although she relies on government tax credits for a top-up to her salary, payment restrictions mean she’s missing out on hundreds of pounds.

“Just this week I was able to claim tax credits because I’m only on minimum wage but I did extra shifts during Covid, so I was £46 over the threshold and my credits have been cut by over £600 a month,” she said.

“That’s a massive loss to such a big family, and I can’t sustain that, so we need to make saving wherever we can.

“Everything is rising: food, fuel, gas and electric, and wages haven’t gone up to meet rising household expenses.”

The mother said working in NHS is a rewarding job but also high pressure. She added: “It’s not sustainable when you do three 12-hour shifts. You can end up working 50–60 hour weeks but then you have to come home and care for your children.”

The Northern Echo:

The help the Angel Trust and similar charities provide is invaluable to her family – and the launch of the new pantry is hailed as a lifeline.

She explained: “I’ve come here today, spent £20 and I’ve got enough for full meals, breakfast, snacks and treats.

Paying for a family-of-five is costly enough for most families but the extra costs for one of her daughter’s disability requirements further add to their financial worries. Recent electricity bills have totalled £50 a week due to the need to power her daughter’s electrical bed and special equipment.

And despite the issues thousands around the region are going through she isn’t convinced any immediate help from the government is due.

“I don’t see how anything will change but hopefully there will be some help at some point. We’ve come here today to make savings where we can to have a bit more money in our pocket.”

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