There’s Nothing Wrong with Accepting Help

Growing up, I was a saver. Money that I got in cards or throughout the year would go into my little, clear jar that had a label saying, ‘Lauren’s money. Don’t touch. I know how much is here.’ I’ll add that the message was barely legible. This habit is something I kept over the course of my teenage years and early adulthood. I’ve always had some sort of job. As a young teen, I covered my brother’s paper rounds a few times before getting my own. I worked in retail at sixteen, then became a cleaner in sixth form. I wanted to make sure I had enough money behind me for uni and school lunches.

What I didn’t factor in though, was a cost-of-living crisis after a pandemic. My rent was high and the conditions of my flat were poor. The bills rocketed and even shopping for the basics became a question of, ‘Can I get by without this?’ For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have a proper income and I had to budget on what little I had.

At the worst point, I was skipping meals and turning up hungry for meetings and classes. I’d sit in a café on campus for the warmth and not their cakes, soups or hot chocolates because putting the heating on at home meant paying more. I’d be there from nine in the morning until six at night. I’d take the long way back to my flat.

One of the things that helped during this time was the local food bank. I was worried my situation wasn’t severe enough to warrant me using one. I felt bad because other people might have needed the items more. But at my lowest point, I knew I needed to start helping myself more, and it wasn’t a case of ‘who has it worse?’ I went to the food bank and they were incredibly lovely. All of them. They stocked me up with bread, some canned food – beans, fruit – I even got some milk and cereal. There was plenty there. Some days there would be fresh veg. I liked it when they had vegetables in because I would make soup from scratch and I could make it last for several meals. I know some food banks also stock toiletries which can be super handy. These places often operate on a free or donate-what-you-can policy so for someone like me, this was incredibly helpful. It meant I didn’t have to go to bed feeling hungry. And I’m forever thankful for that.

My point is that even if you’re prepared, you can find yourself in situations that are tough, ones you tried hard to avoid. You shouldn’t blame yourself for the situations that arise, but you also shouldn’t punish yourself by not getting the help you need. Whether it’s financial hardship funds, using food banks, or a different service entirely. Whatever it is that you need, you shouldn’t feel ashamed or like you can’t use what is available. You can do everything in your power to avoid or try to fix a situation but sometimes, we just need a bit of help and compassion from others. There is nothing wrong with that. If you are struggling, please reach out to the services in your community. They are there to help.


Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to 'find help' - it's not weak to speak!

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