An NHS worker has told how he could barely afford to continue visiting his patients in Stoke-on-Trent – due to the cost of filling up his car.
Marek Powalski – an NHS community support worker – says he now has to pay to do his job due to rising fuel prices. The 49-year-old estimates the cost of refilling his socket has doubled. And although he is claiming a portion of the mileage cost, the amount he receives has not been increased to reflect soaring prices at the pump.
“We feel the pinch massively. I pay the NHS to do my job,’ he told the Mirror. “More and more personnel are disbursed. Some people lose £120 a month.
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“In order to make up the shortfall, staff are working extra shifts to spend less time with friends and family just to make sure they have enough food. I talk to the staff who are in tears. The pressure this creates causes people to leave with stress, which then creates more workload for others.
“They say the NHS is creaking. For me, it’s like broken.
Powalski says rising gas prices aren’t the only way the cost of living affects people’s lives. Many of the patients he cares for don’t have enough money to eat.
He said, “I buy food out of my own pocket for the patients I see because they don’t have any.”
The NHS worker was one of hundreds who attended the TUC’s ‘Stoke Deserves Better’ rally earlier this month.
Almost everyone in the audience has been affected by the cost of living crisis.
Ian Poole, 49, GMB union member who works in a supermarket. He says his colleagues are desperate to try to make ends meet.
He said: “We are at the point where many retail workers cannot afford to shop in the stores they work in. They have to go to a discount retailer. In a recent survey of retail workers, a high percentage used food banks or had to borrow from friends and family. »
Mr Poole’s pay will rise from £9.66 an hour to £10.10 an hour from July, but says the 54p increase will be “eaten up very quickly” by inflation. Father-of-one says he and his wife keep their heads above water by not going out.
“As food bills go up, our socialization disappears. It’s between that or heating, food and clothing. Going to the pub is a thing of the past,” he said.
He says the situation is much worse for many of his colleagues. “People can’t afford housing or renting. For many people, the thought of getting on the property ladder will never happen,” he added.
He fears that increased competition between large supermarkets to attract customers with less to spend could lead to job losses.
“As the cost of living starts to drop, retailers will start going to war. Their first instinct is to start cutting costs, which means bodies leaving the shop and less overtime,” he said.
Adam Colcough, who works for a distribution company, says people have “genuine fear” about how they will pay their bills.
“I volunteer for a local mental health charity and people are struggling. The stress of precarious work harms their health,” he said.
In Hanley, almost everyone the Mirror spoke to feared the situation was getting worse.
Kate Donaldson, a 63-year-old carer, said she moved from a terraced house to an apartment to save money. His main concern was the future of his family. “What did they have? They have nothing. The world needs a big shake-up somewhere,” she said.
Menik Udaveediya, a mother of three, was also worried about rising costs. “It will get worse. My heating is very expensive and the clothes go up. I live with my three boys and you know how teenagers are, they all want designer clothes,” she said.
Pensioners Grace and Peter Kenworthy said they were making ends meet. It helped that they didn’t smoke or drink, they said.
“I have a small private pension and I get Disability Living Allowance, but if they took it away from me, I’d be on the weird street,” Grace said. “We are worried, but there is no point in worrying. You have to face it. It will make you sick if you keep worrying,” she added.
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