I can't bring myself to celebrate Mother's Day because I don't even have a roof to cover my son's head

He’ll ask for something his friends have, and I’ll think: are we even going to have somewhere to live this time next year?

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The Independent Online

When I was younger I had a lot of expectations about what it would be like to grow older. One of them was to have children, and to be able to celebrate Mother's Day with them. None of them included being unemployed and using a food bank at 55.

I've worked all my adult life. After working at a bank for 25 years, I had to leave when I gave birth to my son prematurely. But even then, I still worked part-time while caring for him.

I decided to go back into full-time employment when my son was well enough to look after himself, and got a job in a solicitor’s office specialising in legal aid. But then, in 2013, the Government slashed its funding for legal aid, and my boss had to get rid of 15 staff members across the board, which included me.

I got redundancy pay but I still had bills, rent to pay and a child to look after. My money was dwindling; my income had gone from £24k a year to £4k. So I went to the jobcentre and found myself being shunted from person to person. The man who finally saw my case looked down his nose at me, as if I was undeserving or begging.

I went to my new support worker and she advised she could help by giving me a voucher for a food bank. I was shocked – I never even knew they existed here, I only thought these were in war torn countries. I looked at her and just cried, thinking: is this what it’s really come to?

Fortunately, when I went to the food bank they were welcoming and kind. I didn’t know help like that was out there, and am still incredibly grateful to the Trussell Trust, which is responsible for running the centres.

In between searching for jobs I now volunteer at my local food bank, and always try to help anyone who is also struggling. If it wasn’t for the food bank I don’t know how I would be able to shop for my son or myself while I look for a new job.

When you're relying on food donations, you can't afford for anything to go wrong. When the roof of my house caved in, I sat on my stairs and had a meltdown. I thought, what else could possibly happen? My son started crying too and said, "It’ll be ok mum we’ll get it fixed". It broke my heart. I’ve now got to pay keep my heating on all day until it can get mended.

I’ve always been a good mum, and a proud one. I took time off to care for my son and worked to provide him with anything he could need. Now I have had to stop giving him even the little treats, things like biscuits, and games, just to save extra pennies. He’ll ask for something his friends have – a new pair of trainers, a new phone – and I don’t know what to say. I’m thinking: are we even going to have somewhere to live this time next year?

Every mother wants the best for their children and teaches them that in our society if you work hard, you can achieve anything. I’ve always taught my son that. But I’ve worked hard and look where we are now. How can I look him in the eye and tell him everything’s going to be okay when there’s no way I can promise that?

Mother’s Day used to be a time when my son would thank me for being a good mum. But now I can’t say I really want to celebrate it. I feel like I have really let my boy down.

The author's name has been changed

If you would like to locate and/or donate to your local food bank, visit www.trusselltrust.org​