We live in Britain’s poorest town…neighbours steal bins to flog for a quid & we live in darkness | The Sun
RESIDENTS of dole-hit Grimsby are eating out of food banks and living in darkness as the cost of living crisis bites.
They say things are so bad residents are pinching each other’s wheelie bins at night to flog for a few quid.
Those who are in work say they are left with as little as a five to feed the children for a week after all the bills are paid.
The streets are lined with boarded up shops and houses, drug dealing is rife on the town’s East Marsh estate.
But many residents say they still love it there because the community spirit is second to none and people get by by pulling together.
Cheryl Smith, 44, mum of a nine year old autistic boy and two year old girl, said: “Things are so bad around here that they come and pinch the bins outside your house at night.
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“Most of us only have the domestic waste bins because all the recycling ones have been stolen and cost £25 to replace. It is crazy.
“It is so hard. I came her because the houses were cheap. That was the only positive.
“But then we had no boiler, electricity or gas for six months.
She arranges her “shopping” on the ragged carpet of her terraced home in despair – pasta, tinned hotdogs, a loaf of bread, some cereal and a half -crushed croissant – all past their sell-by dates.
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“I just got back from the food bank,” she explains. “I cannot get my nine year old into school because he is autistic.
“If he could go to school he could get free school meals – and I could get a job. There are many families like me going through hard times because their kids have conditions and are out of school.”
The house is littered with second-hand play things including an old rocking horse knocked together by a neighbour.
Cheryl continued: “I cannot work because I am a lone parent. He has been out of school since September.
“When I complain to the education authority they just say they have to follow procedures.”
Next door neighbour Ivan Love, 61, said: “I have just had the bailiffs in. I have been without central heating for eight years.
“I have been on the dole for 16 years since suffering a hernia. I live on £125 a week for everything. All I can do is try to make the food list.
“I live off microwaved ready meals mainly because I cannot afford to turn the oven on. At night I can only afford to heat the one room so I sit in there watching TV.”
Down the road the boarded up newsagents sits opposite the boarded up hair-dressers. The back alleys of the rows of dismal terraces are strewn with broken glass from broken bottles.
In the middle of the dereliction Malcolm Smith, 63, is struggling to keep his mobile phone shop repair business afloat while also battling cancer.
He had just returned to the near deserted front counter after spending 25 days in Hull Royal Infirmary undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
He said: “I was diagnosed a year and nine months ago with bowel cancer. Then they also found it had spread to my liver.
“We have had this place since 2006. It used to turn a healthy profit. Now it is barely breaking even.
“Many of the customers only come to us in desperation after trying to Google repairs to their phone themselves and making a mess of it."
I live off microwaved ready meals mainly because I cannot afford to turn the oven on
Drunks shuffle along the streets drinking from open cans. “I have been made homeless twice and nobody cares,” shouts one angry unshaven man shaking an empty beer bottle.
“The houses are all boarded up. The drug dealers have taken over. They should fire bomb the whole place.”
Tanya Francis, 38, pulls up on her pushbike on her way to her job as a house keeper, a job she works between caring for three kids at home, aged 15, 13, and two.
She is also in receipt of benefits to supplement her low income but says it is still not enough and she had had to use food banks. “I cycle everywhere because the car is off the road,” she added.
“We could not afford to run it any way due to the price of fuel. Food prices are also just ridiculous at the moment. Every time you go in the shop something has gone up since the previous day.”
Marc Jepson, 31, works as a doorman to support a wife and two children, aged 13 and two. He says: “This place is a sh-thole. It just gets worse and worse.
“I just got paid today and after we had paid all the bills we only had £5 left over to feed the kids for a week.
“We are always out at the food bank and that is with me working as well. All my money goes on rent and bills.”
Becca Baker, 43, was born and bred in Grimsby and despite being surrounded by poverty says she would never live anywhere else.
“We might be skint but you won’t find community spirit like this anywhere else. If you need anything you knock on a neighbour’s door and that’s how we get by,” she said.
She works full time in the community. She said: “I have got clients who cannot afford to turn the lights on at night.
“At the same time, you have got the energy companies boasting about making billions in profits. They could afford to give the whole country free energy and they should do that.
“Then you have got the rich politicians like the Prime Minister telling us to tighten our belts and pull together. It’s an insult.
“They should come down here and try to live on what we have to live on. They would soon be crying.”
She reckons everything every stick of furniture in the house was either a gift or bought from a charity shop for a pittance.
Despite suffering from lung disease, the mum of three has also raised three kids, now aged 16, 18, and 25, two of which are still in full time education.
She makes ends meet by batch cooking mince and onions and reusing the left-overs. Tea is served on a table rescued from a skip for £1 by the light of lamp which cost 30p from a charity shop.
“We have never had to go to the food bank – but we have come close,” she admits.
She has to turn the central heating on because of her lung condition. But even the most miserly use of the radiators costs around £9 a day.
She shudders at the cost when multiplied by seven days a week. However, she counts herself as one of the lucky ones, being in stable employment.
She added: “Just the other day I was driving between jobs when I released the fuel in my car was down to zero when I still had to finish my shift.
“But I know a lot of other people who have it twice as hard.”
Nodding in agreement, Lee Williams, 31, another local dad, said: “What I don’t agree with is the costs of all the basics going up like bread and milk.
“Why cannot they at least provide baby food for free for the struggling families. My kids are only two or three. I provide for them but only because i am still in work.”
This week, Office for National Statistics figures showed that the neighbourhood of Grimsby East Marsh & Port has the lowest average annual household income in England and Wales of just £22,200 — more than £10,000 below the national average.
Cllr Stephen Harness, Cabinet member for finance at North East Lincolnshire Council said: “Like many other areas across England, we have residents who we know are struggling to pay bills.
"There’s lots of useful information on our website, and particularly in the East Marsh, there’s several local community groups that can help out.
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“As a council, we can offer a range of support as well as advice on other places that can offer help.
"We continue to deliver the Government’s Household Support Grant to residents most in need, and we urge residents facing tough decisions like the ones highlighted in this story to get in touch with us to see how we can help.”
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