How is the cost of living crisis impacting you?
I work as a social care worker and I get paid by the hour. So that means I either have to work more hours, get another job, or reduce the kind of things I am spending my money on order to be able to survive. So either you are spending more time working and giving less time to other things, or you’re really downsizing your life.
What have you had to give up in order to be able to continue living as normally as possible?
One of the first things were what I’d consider luxuries like getting my hair and nails done. When the crisis started, I began to walking to work, and walking back from work. I’ll occasionally take a taxi back from work when it’s very late, because of the bus times in my area. Instead of buying groceries from my usual favourite outlet, I’ve been buying groceries from cheaper supermarkets, even though they may not have what I want.
How has that made you feel?
Suddenly, I don’t feel like I deserve certain things anymore because I’m not financially able to get them. So my groceries, my toiletries, everything has been downsized or I have to find cheaper alternatives. No matter how hard I try, the system, the economy is making it harder and harder to survive. It feels very unfair.
How has the cost of living affected your future plans and dreams?
My dream is to move out of social care, and work within the legal sector but I can’t get internships or pro bono jobs because I need money. So I spend most of my hours outside of my study time, getting cash in hand jobs and doing extra shifts, rather than investing in my career, going to networking events and pushing myself. So it feels like that dream is getting further and further away from me.
I’ve also always wanted to become a foster carer. To do that, I would need to have a minimum of a 2-bedroom apartment, which I have not been able to afford. I’ve been saving for years. And it feels like it’s impossible to get on the housing market.
What would you be doing if you weren’t struggling day to day?
It will be definitely me driving myself into a better career. I’m an ambitious person. I’m doing my PhD in law, so I’ll be honoured to be able to give back to society some of the skills I’ve acquired through my education. And, if the cost of living wasn’t so terrible, I would have been pursuing my dream to being a foster parent.
Is there anything that you want to achieve that now feels harder?
I want to get on the property market. But that dream seems to be getting farther away from me because I can’t save as much as I used to. And, during the pandemic, I dipped a lot into my savings. And now it just feels like how am I going to make enough money in order to save enough to get a deposit anymore? So that dream feels impossible.
How does that make you feel?
When you’ve been working for so long, so hard, it just feels unfair. It feels like someone has stolen your hope. It feels like, all of a sudden, the rug has been pulled from under your feet, and everything is in confusion.
What do you think the government should do to support young women?
I know people think it’s not only young women that have been disproportionately affected by high cost of living. But getting on the property ladder is so much harder if you’re single, as well as paying tax and running a home as a single person. Think about how vulnerable women can be in our society. Do they need a male partner in order to just live a normal life?
So the government should really think about women’s needs?
Yes. Why are women struggling so much in career advancement and employability? Why aren’t so many other women in top tier careers motivating the younger women to actually grow into those roles? And also, during the cost of living crisis, certain things only affect women. The government should afford a portion of welfare benefits for women’s necessities.
What would you say if you met the Prime Minister?
I feel like Rishi Sunak represents a lot of hope – in diversity, in the British culture. He should look into helping ethnic minorities more – people whose voices aren’t usually heard and easy to dismiss. I’d ask him to be open to hear what young women want to say.
Just knowing that we’re being listened to goes a long way.