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Christie's story

Christie and her mum photoChristie, based in Essex, cares for her 77-year-old mum who has physical and mental health needs as well as epilepsy. Christie’s mum sometimes suffers from blackouts and can have up to ten seizures a day, and was also recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's mixed with vascular dementia. Now in her 30s, Christie has been caring for her mum since she was little.

Caring throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has been intense, especially while Christie and her Mum have been shielding. Christie has not had any breaks from her caring role at all. Christie's own health is deteriorating because of the intense levels of care that she is providing – she is needing surgery to repair her back problems that make it difficult to look after her mum. On top of these worries, Christie is constantly thinking about how to make ends meet and the Carer's Allowance she receives – just £67.25 a week – is not enough to cover the rising costs of caring at home.

Increased costs of living during the pandemic means she and her Mum have had to go into arrears with their bills and rent just so they can buy food. For months, Christie relied on food banks to prevent her and her mum from going hungry. She says things got so bad that they were very hungry and had to spend bill money to pay for food. Now, she saves up all her money to do a food shop at the supermarket once a week.

Christie explained, “Finances have always been difficult but we're now in utility and rent arrears which we're trying to clear up, so it's making things very difficult right now." Christie says her current reality is "spending every penny on food, rent and bills".

Every other cost that comes along, "like something breaking down or emergency veterinary bills", means more borrowing which only creates a second wave of financial problems. "Sometimes mum has to go into her benefits to help me and she's in arrears with her credit card that she's still paying off and the gas bill from Winter 2019 let alone 2020”.

Christie says the sense of being invisible and forgotten has never been more intense than ever in the past 11 months, and that she feels alone.

“Caring for my mum is going to get even harder and there's no help for me. The future is very scary. To have the burden of financial problems off of our chests would make our lives a lot easier – it’d be one less stress to have to think about”.

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