'I never thought I'd be begging' says Teesside widow as cost of living grows

  • Rachel Bullock speaking to 'Jackie' - she didn't want to reveal her identity so we have changed her name and her words have been voiced by a journalist

A Teesside woman says she "can't see a future" because of the cost of heating, eating and fuel.

'Jackie' started using food banks two months ago after her husband died from cancer.

"My husband was diagnosed with cancer and four days later he died. I never thought I'd be begging.

"I'm very cautious of what I eat because I've got to make it last, I've also got to think of the heating costs and the cooking costs which I'm absolutely dreading because I'm on a meter so I don't know how much it's going to go up to.

"Day by day, literally day by day. I wake up on a morning and just go 'Oh I'm breathing again' and that's the worst feeling I have every day now. I can't see a future.

"I get through the day and that's how I do it every single day now."

Jackie is one of many turning to charities for help with daily costs.

Founder of TEES (Together, Engage, Encourage, Support) Tonia Nixon

TEES (Together, Engage, Encourage, Support) in Saltburn supports 900 people a month with food, clothing and furniture.

Its founder, Tonia Nixon, has worked for different local charities for more than 30 years. She says rising prices are pushing people to breaking point.

"We've got both parents working, and if they've been self-employed and they've not been able to trade through Covid, their livelihoods... these are proud people.

"Teessiders are proud people anyway, and having to use a food bank and a clothing bank is humiliating to them."

Annual household energy bills are due to rise by around £700, petrol has been as high as 167p a litre on UK forecourts in recent days, inflation is at 5.4% and next month National Insurance will increase by 1.25%.

Rising prices are only expected to exacerbate needs in the North East, which have already been growing.

Tomorrow (23 March), the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will give his Spring Budget - with many hoping he will offer some help to alleviate the pressure of soaring prices.

Mr Sunak is thought to be considering a fuel duty cut of 5p per litre to address sky-high petrol and diesel prices.

The Government has already announced support for struggling households in the form of a £150 council tax rebate for houses in bands A-D in April, and a £200 discount on bills as a loan from October.