My husband & I got married in 2009. We live in a large city and before we got married we were saving for a house. We both were working and all was right with the world. In 2010, I lost my job due to the company closing down. Soon after our first baby was born and the cuts of 2009 in public sector pay really began to hit home for us. The purchasing of our house had to be put on hold as any savings we had were being used to pay our rent & our food. As a result, that money quickly ran out. We had a double surprise when our twins arrived & any plans for me to return to work had to be put on hold. The quote we got childcare for three children was €2100 per month. That’s certainly a lot more than we can afford and actually would be more than what I would earn per month anyway! The twins were premature & quite ill and now are still small and recently our eldest child has been diagnosed with a genetic inherited condition that means that he needs a lot of extra supports that we have to pay for. At present we do not have a medical card. I’m hoping that this will change for our eldest son who is just over age for automatic free GP care. Sometimes, when I’m at home thinking about what I can cook for my family with about €6 in my purse I wonder if my family would be better off without me. I am tired. I cry so much because I feel I’ve let them all down. We can’t survive on €527 per week. Should I be able to? Once the rent, food, petrol, electricity & gas are paid there is absolutely nothing left. Sometimes I wonder if I have enough food & milk to last. Sometimes I pretend to my neighbour that I forgot to get milk just so she doesn’t know I’m where I am in life. Nowhere & hopeless.  

My husband-a lovely, committed man but a broken man. He had an extra job doing deliveries but because of the uncertainly of his hours in the army he just couldn’t commit to it & his boss didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t do some nights/weekends due to duty, call out & all the other unexpected things that soldiers have to do.  I wake up every day with a pain in my chest hoping that no unexpected bill will arrive or no final notice for a medical bill will arrive. The worry & the anxiety of living week to week is too much. My doctor has prescribed anti-depressants for me. I actually don’t even have the money to pick up that prescription so I will be going without.     

Today is Tuesday. My husband is on duty. I’m glad because I don’t want him to see that I have to feed our children porridge for dinner because it will break his heart. It’s the only thing I have in our bare cupboards and I have barely enough milk for the babies till Wednesday. Sometimes, I wait till 12 midnight on a Tuesday/Wednesday to go to 24 hour Tesco to buy milk because I wouldn’t have the money that day.  For some strange reason I noticed that now the pay isn’t in bank accounts until 2am! Yes! That was me in Tesco last week at 3am buying milk & food because we went without the whole day. I just don’t want my children growing up in this hell. My husband & I often go hungry to feed our children. This is not something new. This happens all the time.  We are only concerned about our children. What will become of them living with parents who can’t attend to their basic needs for proper food? I’m distraught just thinking about it.  We have no future. We will never own our own house, we will never be able to afford a holiday, we will never be able to afford to send our children to college. These used to be priorities for us but now all we want is to be able to put food on our kitchen table EVERY night. Sometimes I think the burden of living like this is too much for me and my family. The only reason I’m still living is because I love my husband and children too much to leave them struggle alone without me. They need me. How can the government not see that their policies are destroying families? Me & my family are destroyed.

I just want to say a big thanks to the wonderful people of WPDF. You have shown me that we are not the only ones struggling and living (existing) this way.  You have given me and my husband hope. Thank you for bringing our hardship to the attention of the public. You’re right – It has been a proud hidden secret for far too long.