My struggle has a name, time to call it out.

Lis, Fair By Design Ambassador and Commisioner Birmingham Poverty Truth

As someone who has struggled most of my life in poverty I didn’t realise until I become a Fair By Design Ambassador that many of the reasons for my struggle had a name. I just assumed that paying extra costs if you were poor was how everyone I knew or lived around me managed and coped. It was just accepted that these were our options in my community and we used them. Nothing has changed as far as I can see-people are still in this trap.

Over the years myself and the vast majority of people I have known have had a prepayment meter for their gas and electric in the cupboard in the hallway, I know now this has cost me and them far more than if people like us could have afforded direct debits. A computer was something students used at college and university not for shopping around for best deals. During that time and even now do I have the state of mind, patience or confidence to hunt for better energy deals or switch tariffs every 12 months?, no not at all.

And there was lady who came around for a cuppa each week, leaving with most of my family allowance, she was not in fact my saving grace, my angel as I thought, she was ripping me off left right and centre. Her high interest doorstep loan was a godsend when I had no carpet and the settee was on its last legs. That was until I carried its burden daily, nightly, weekly and monthly, and still do.

For many years I followed in my mums’ footsteps and clothed us out of the catalogue. I thought this was the natural thing to do, a secret passed on from mother to daughter on how to look good when you’re skint. That was until I learnt I could have bought trainers for £35 in the shops not relying on the 20 weeks for £60 that the catalogue charged. Could I have bought them upfront? No, I never had the money, and I still don’t. Direct debit, contents insurance, Christmas not done on tick weren't and aren’t for people like me. I had no problem standing in a queue at the post office, family allowance book in one hand, a giro in the other and my milk tokens tucked in my back pocket to trade with the little shop around the corner for 10 fags.

I know that all insurance is expensive especially because of the areas we are housed in because they are high crime areas. If you get “robbed” then you can probably go and buy better stuff cheaper in the pub down the road. What I’m trying to say is it was our way of living and still is, and it continues to be for millions of people.

The name of these extra costs is the poverty premium and its time to call it out and end it.