Mum-of-4 faced eviction before Christmas waiting on first Universal Credit payment


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A fifth of under-30s face a tsunami of debt that threatens to leave them homeless, with 20% behind on rent or mortgage and 39% spending less on food

Mum-of-four Amber Smith faced poverty, homelessness and a court summons after she and her partner split

A fifth of under-30s face a tsunami of debt that threatens to leave them homeless.

Grim statistics show 20% are behind on their rent or mortgage and 39% are spending less on food.

While 48% in a survey were in full-time jobs, one in four of those at work had borrowed money and one in eight had visited a foodbank.

More than half have kids, raising the sad prospect of entire families without a roof over their heads.

Charlie Buckingham, 23, at the Salvation Army church in Sheerness, Kent
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Image:

JOHN McLELLAN)

The Salvation Army study of 2,000 young adults found nearly a quarter of families are relying on charity this Christmas.

Mum-of-four Amber Smith, 30, faced poverty, homelessness and a court summons after she and her partner split and the rent hadn’t been paid in Horsham, West Sussex.

Amber, whose children are aged four, six, 12 and 13, faced losing her flat as she waited for her first Universal Credit payment.

She said: “Before last Christmas I discovered we were about to lose our home and had a lot of debt.

“I felt trapped, no way out. I was in a dark place and felt so guilty I couldn’t give my children the Christmas they deserved.”

Amber was given food and gifts by her local Salvation Army and managed to avoid eviction. But, a year on, things are still tough.

She adds: “I’d like to return to work but, as is the case for many mums, the lack of affordable childcare is a big barrier.

“I am incredibly grateful to The Salvation Army for helping me through a tough time. I worry what kind of impact this is having mentally on my children.”

Charlie Buckingham, 23, whose two ­children are under five, was furloughed from his marketing job in lockdown and then let go, leaving him out of work for a year.

Charlie, from Sheerness, Kent, struggled to heat his home and pay his council tax as he applied for hundreds of jobs without luck.

He said: “I had to support my family, but nothing came through. There were 900 applicants for one role at the Aldi distribution centre in Sheerness – that’s how difficult it was for people to get jobs here.”

Charlie began volunteering with The Salvation Army and is now a support officer at a foodbank. He also delivers parcels for the Sheppey Support Bus, a mobile supermarket tackling food poverty.

The Salvation Army’s Lt Colonel Dean Pallant said: “There are real people in desperate need behind these statistics.

“The cost of living rise will eat up more income. They could fall deeper into debt and start the year facing homelessness.”

The charity wants the Government to offer more debt support, protection from food poverty and extra free childcare so parents like Amber can afford to work.

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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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