How the cost of living crisis is pushing Mancunians to the edge

Noah has a lot of energy for a toddler who’s just marched around Manchester. He’s pestering his mum, Chantelle I’Anson-Hughes, to go and play on the roundabout in Piccadilly Gardens.

After three or four dashes to the play area, she relents and unclips him from his harness so he can run around. Like most four-year-olds, Noah wants adventure—and toys. But toys are not something Chantelle can afford. Fresh fruit and vegetables are n’t either — the mum-of-two from Accrington has to grow her own.

“He has been asking for toys and I cannot afford it,” she tells the Manchester Evening News . “It is now everything, it’s ridiculous. We are all feeling it. I cannot afford these things any more.

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“It’s getting worse and worse. Uniform is not cheap. Jumpers costing a fortune. We are having to make sure that it lasts. Everything is getting really, really expensive. The sun coming out will give us a break.

“We do forage instead of buying fruit. We grow potatoes, tomatoes, spring onions, apples, and pears.”

Standing with Chantelle is Sonia Griffin, who has also traveled from Lancashire to the city. The Blackburn mum-of-two teenagers, with another baby on the way, is also feeling the squeeze.

sonia griffin

She explains: “The cost of living is exceeding my income. Everything is going up. They cannot kick people out on the street. I am worried about the next generation and the world is in chaos. I’m spending £300 on uniforms for the kids.” Sonia adds that she’s having to rescue second-hand clothes to give her secondary-school-age children an outfit for lessons.

Families aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch. One young man, with strikingly dyed red hair, says his friends of him are priced out of living alone. He’s staying with family friends, but others aren’t so lucky. The man, who does not give his name to him, says: “My friend is living in a caravan.” He’s tone in his voice does not display surprise, perhaps an indication of how deeply this crisis has already hit Manchester’s youth.

This man didn’t want to give his name – but his friends are being forced to live in caravans

Paul Harnett is another man who doesn’t live in a conventional home — but this is for different reasons. He’s occupying the Ryebank Fields area in Chorlton, in a dispute with Manchester Metropolitan University.

Even though he burns wood to stay warm — which is often donated by local tradespeople — he is seeing the crisis unfold first-hand. He explains: “I am working for the World Bank in Bangladesh and IMF in Poland.

“I know the government has made a choice to throw the majority of the people under the bus. We have got millionaires whose children will have a hard time buying a house on their own unless their parents die.”

Paul Harnett, who attended the cost of living protest on Saturday

All of the people the MEN spoke had taken to the streets in a 90-minute march, which snaked from the Gardens past the art gallery, through St Peter’s Square, along Deansgate, stopping in St Ann’s Square and under the Arndale food court on Market Street.

In a loud, percussion-led march, some people heckled the group — saying their demonstration would not address the issue. What was not in doubt, though, was the depth of feeling among the protesters. ‘There is a crisis, and more needs to be done about it’, is the message they projected.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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