Cost of living crisis: starving Sheffield mother forced to nearly steal nappies

A starving mother said she was nearly forced to steal nappies for her children and has been skipping meals due to the cost of living crisis.

“I didn’t know what else to do, I’ve never stolen in my life…I feel ill because of that,” the mother told Helen Eadon, at the Link Community Hub which provides lifeline support for people on the Stradbroke estate.

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Ms Eadon said the woman, who she kept anonymous, fled domestic violence during the Covid-19 lockdowns with her two small children and used her savings to pay rent then lost her job and was forced to rely on Universal Credit.

A starving mother said she was nearly forced to steal nappies for her children and has been skipping meals due to the cost of living crisis. The Link Community Hub, in Sheffield, has been supporting her and many others.

Now the cost of living crisis has hit, she is skipping meals to feed her children.

By chance she saw a Facebook post from the Link Community Hub which led to Ms Eadon visiting to deliver an emergency supply of nappies.

“She had no money, she didn’t have anybody and she didn’t have anywhere to go,” Ms Eadon said.

“So I took her nappies round and she said ‘I feel really ill today and it’s not because I’ve been missing food, I was going to go out and I was going to steal nappies’.”

Helen Eadon, of Sheffield Link Community Hub, has been supporting people struggling with the cost of living crisis. She spoke about people's experiences during Sheffield Council's latest full council meeting.

Ms Eadon added: “It’s deprivation theft and it’s happening more and more. People are being forced to steal because they have got no money. Security guards in supermarkets are being trained to look out for deprivation theft. This lady said ‘if I hadn’t got my children I wouldn’t want to be here anymore, I wouldn’t want to live this life’. That’s what we are hearing more and more, people saying ‘I don’t want to be here’.”

Starving

Ms Eadon told the stories of people she was supporting in the community during this week’s full council meeting.

She added that in just seven days she issued 25 emergency food parcels, on top of referrals to food banks.

Of those receiving the emergency parcels, four had gone more than one day without eating and one woman had gone four days without eating.

She said the situation was a “ticking time bomb” and people would not be able to survive winter.

What is Sheffield Council doing about the cost of living crisis?

Ms Eadon told councillors: “Tonight when I go home I’m going to feel how lucky I am to be able to just go to my fridge and get something to eat. And you are all lucky too. Those of us who are lucky should help those who aren’t lucky because that is the right thing to do.”

She asked what was being done to support those impacted by the cost of living crisis.

Councillor Terry Fox, leader of the council, said actions the authority had taken included giving £200,000 to support food banks, giving £5.2 million to support housing tenants, and providing food vouchers during school holidays.

Going forwards, he said the authority would meet regularly over summer to address the crisis and prepare for winter including looking at using community buildings as ‘warm banks’ where people can get out of the cold.

He said: “I don’t know how some people are surviving at this moment in time and we will do anything we can do, we will not yield from that.”