‘I went from earning £50k to living on £35 a week’ – BBC News

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Caroline had financial difficulties after the birth of her second child

A woman who went from earning £50,000 a year to relying on a food bank has said she will “never be able to thank” its volunteers for the help she received.

Caroline had been living and working in the Netherlands, running an employment agency, when she became pregnant.

But after the end of a relationship and facing housing and health problems, she was living on “about £35 a week”.

She said she would encourage anyone who was struggling financially to seek help from a food bank.

Caroline, who only wants to use her first name, said without support from Stoke-on-Trent Food Bank “I don’t know where I would be right now”.

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Caroline said staff at Stoke-on-Trent food bank are “angels”

She was earning up to €1,000 a week, with commission, before becoming pregnant with her daughter who is now nine.

Caroline returned to England and about 18 months later fell pregnant with her son, now seven, but the relationship with her children’s father broke down and he remained in the Netherlands.

She said she had no support with childcare and complications after her children’s births left her unable to work full time.

Rising damp in their privately rented home meant she was spending £400 a month on utilities to heat it and she also had to top-up the rental payments which were not fully covered by housing benefits.

While volunteering at children’s centres she was given her first token for the food bank.

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Caroline said the food bank signposted services to help her

As well as collecting food there once a month, staff also helped “signpost” her towards other support services.

“I was too proud to admit I needed help,” she said.

“But I don’t think that pride has a part to play these days in visiting a food bank because, if you need that help, it is one of the best places you can go.”

Caroline, who now lives in Stone, added: “I am hoping for a brighter future. I am settled, the children are settled, I don’t have debts, it just feels amazing to be in this position.”

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