Cost of living: Cardiff mum-of-five skipping meals and surviving on charity donations

A single mum-of-five from Cardiff says she wouldn't survive financially or emotionally without charity support as the cost of living crisis continues to put pressure on families.

Charlotte says she always puts her family first and will skip meals to make sure they don't go hungry. 

The 30-year-old, who also cares for her younger brother, says balancing bills and ensuring there's enough food for everyone has become more and more of a struggle.

She says it's had a significant impact on her mental health.

"It's been hard, really hard," Charlotte explained.

"Trying to manage everything, and to deal with other emotions as well as money, it can be a strain on yourself and your mental health, stress, worry, your pride.

"It can make you feel a bit worthless as a parent because you can't give them everything that they need."

Charlotte says charity support helps her survive both financially and emotionally, but it isn't easy asking for help.

"I've had help with foodbanks and clothes.

"It can be embarrassing to ask for help, but you've got to do it for your children."

A new survey by Public Health Wales has highlighted that people in Wales are increasingly worried about money, with 37% agreeing that they are 'only just managing' and more than 1 in 10 saying they are 'not managing' to make ends meet.

Dr Catherine Sharp from Public Health Wales said: "Insight from the panel suggests that the financial uncertainty driven by rising costs of living is causing people to worry more about money than they have in the past.

"Findings suggest a substantial proportion of people in Wales are struggling to make ends meet, yet an even greater proportion are worrying about their finances."

Charities like Home Start Cymru said demand for help is on the rise but they fear many families feel too embarrassed to seek support.

“We have seen a 43% increase in referrals for our support during the last financial year," said Izzabella James, Policy and Public Officer at Home Start Cymru.

"So far, this financial year, we have supported 1182 families across 18 local authorities in Wales."

She continued: "It's those really crucial decisions parents are having to make between heating and eating, even using a washing machine so they're children have a clean uniform, so it's really trying to get in there early because if parents don't receive that support early on, they're going to be dipping and dipping and not be able to pay bill, falling into debt and it's services that are more advanced and specialized that they're going to need to get further down the line."

Charlotte says the pressure caused by the cost of living crisis is having a big impact on her mental health Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Charlotte hopes sharing her experiences will encourage others to realise they're not alone.

She said: "As soon as I asked for help, I had a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders and my family and I noticed a difference in everyone's behavior and just how we were living.

"There are a lot of people out there who will support you and help you through these hard times like they did for me and my family and I'm forever grateful for that."