Economically vulnerable young women are among the hardest hit by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. In the third of our blogs sharing young women’s experiences, we hear from Josie who tells us about how her life and career path has drastically changed because of the lockdown.
How my life has changed
I handed my notice in with my last job right before the lockdown started as I was under the impression I’d be starting with another company. And then everything fell apart from there as almost every company stopped all hiring of new staff.
Luckily, I managed to get a job at a supermarket to at least try and keep on track with bills and outgoing payments, but it hasn’t been easy. As well as dealing with extremely difficult and sometimes rude customers I’m also dealing with health issues which include type 1 diabetes and a recent diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome.
I’ve had to take on as many shifts as I can to ensure there’s enough money for food. I’ve also had to change my diet drastically as I can now only buy whatever is cheapest and most easily accessible – rather than the best food for managing my diabetes. At least working in a supermarket means actually having access to food and also occasionally receiving ‘colleague shop items’ (food that has reached the sell-by date but is still safe to eat that is offered free to colleagues). Bonus points for reducing food waste!
Fairness and finances
It was never going to be easy on anyone, but the constant pressure of finances is particularly difficult for me. I was an apprentice before my current supermarket job and I was already in debt. As an apprentice I wasn’t eligible for any support from the government, and I just want to ask why? It’s not like an apprentice receives enough money to actually save and many struggle with debt, so why on earth is nothing available for them?
Having no savings or financial support is not only difficult and stressful and feels like a huge weight on your chest. I would have loved to have worked for the company I was due to start with. I would have been doing what I love and receiving a fair and liveable wage for the first time in my life.
But I’m trying my best with what I do have now. I’m also looking into ways I can make money in addition to my shifts, but it’s not easy, and requires time that I just don’t have.
Stress, stress, stress
If I thought my stress level was bad before, it’s worse during lockdown. While I love my family, tensions can run high – and now my mother is working from home it seems as though I never have a minute to myself. There are arguments on an almost daily basis.
It doesn’t help that all conversations are about the virus and the latest figures – what happened to positivity in difficult times?
I suppose with worries about finances weighing on all of us at the moment, it adds a lot to the stress and bad moods, but for me personally it’s my additional health issues which adds to the friction. Pain puts everyone in a bad mood regardless and not having the face to face support from my friends, that I would usually have, has made things even more difficult.
One thing the government can do to help women like me right now
Pay young people fairly. The government must ensure that the wages young women are being paid is equal to their peers, appropriately calculated and accurate in terms of hours worked, and fair. If a company is making a massive increase in profits during the pandemic, the workers are a key part of this so they deserve the recognition, no matter how old they are.
Over a million young women are already struggling to live on low or no pay and will be amongst the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
Find out how we’re making sure No Young Woman Left Behind.