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Helen's Story

‘Living without a cooker, fridge or washing machine can mean living with difficulty, shame and stigma every day of your life. I know, because I have been there’

Mother holding her child

Helen had always worked full time in retail. She wasn’t well off but had no debt and she considered herself to have a decent standard of living. Helen fell pregnant with her daughter Ella and could not be happier. That was until her life was turned upside down.

Helen’s husband left and her life started to change. "I worked full time before I had my daughter and I never imagined that I would have to bring her up on my own. Up until having Ella I had never claimed benefits and so was not aware of how the system worked or that charitable grants were available.  I never expected to have a child by myself and be in a situation where we couldn't cope."

Helen had to give up her job to care for her new baby and so couldn’t cope with paying the bills and had to  had to move into a cheaper place. Now caring for her daughter alone, Helen is getting by. She has found a new job but is still living without essential household appliances.

"When we first moved in, things were tough we didn't have a washing machine and with a young baby you create quite a bit of washing. So I would have to go back to my Mum's once a week and do a number of loads. I was quite ashamed of my situation and didn't want to have to go to the launderette and I was lucky to have my mum there to step in."

Even when Helen went back to work she struggled to make ends meet. She had to ask her parents to help tide her over. Helen is a proud women and hated having to ask for help. However, she realised she was lucky as some people are in a far worse situation with no family – or anyone – to help them get by. 

With help from Turn2us, Helen was eventually able to get herself and Ella into a slightly better financial position.  

‘When I first went back to work, after paying all my bills and childcare, I was left with just £80 a month to live on; £80 to put nappies on Ella, feed us and put petrol in the car….’

With just enough to scrape by each month, and no disposable income, it is hard to replace appliances when they break down. Like Helen’s cooker. Currently, all that works is a single ring, Helen has to go to a friend’s house once a week and use her kitchen to do batch cooking, which she freezes to heat up in the microwave. It’s not ideal but it is important to Helen that Ella gets a decent home cooked meal.

‘Living without a cooker, fridge or washing machine can mean living with difficulty, shame and stigma every day of your life. I know, because I have been there’

Now Helen is in a better position, thanks to the lifeline provided to her by Turn2us, ‘through all of this, the help and information I received has been an absolute lifeline, so thank you once again for supporting this important and necessary charity – and for any gift you can make today.’

What keeps Helen going is that by the time Ella is old enough to remember what her childhood is like they will be in a much better situation.

Donate now to help more families living without.