Exhausted Devon parents skip meals to make sure their children get fed

BPM MEDIA - Kate Worby and Charles Skudder
Charles Skudder and Kate Worby Credit: BPM Media

A couple from Bideford said they have to skip their own meals to make sure their children get to eat.

Kate Worby and Charles Skudder say they have to stick to a tight budget to survive financially.

Kate, 29, has three jobs. She is a children's entertainer for her own business Magical Guests and also works as a carer and a cleaner.

Charles, 29, is a full-time university student but also runs a valet business. He also worked nights as a carer at a local care home until it recently shut down.

Together they look after their three children who are eight, four and almost one.

"I am so tired as I have not eaten really in three days," Kate said.

"When Charles and I are not eating enough it takes its toll.

"We either don't eat or between us have one meal a day, even if it's just cheese on toast. It's not enough, but it's at least something. It's a very real thing for a lot of families."

But she said her children - who get free school dinners - will "always come first".

"I try to make the food stretch by bulking it out such as with frozen vegetables," she added.

"I'm quite a savvy spender anyway so I will save where I can. I'm always looking for the best bargain for everything but it does mean we can't do things like buying biscuits for the children to have as a snack.

"That's not within the budget.

"We buy the basic everything such as potatoes and pasta. I have learnt to make my own things like sauces.

"It just means when you are going out shopping you can't think 'that looks nice' and just pick it up. I go with a list and get what's on it. I walk around with a calculator on my phone so I know when we have reached our maximum budget.

"If it means I haven't got a meal for say two nights, I have to reevaluate what I have actually got and how you can stretch what you have in the basket."

The family also have to limit how much they heat their home, keeping heading only in the rooms where the children sleep.

Kate said: "I have heard the phrase 'heat or eat' said a lot but for us it's not actually the case - it's 'heat less, eat less'.

"We can't make a choice between the two because we have a young baby so we have to heat his bedroom and the other children's bedrooms but not anywhere else.

"We limit it to heating just the rooms that are essential to be heated. Luckily we are coming into summer again but in the winter it will be a massive problem. There will be extra coats and jumpers being put on."

The family are among the many across the country struggling with the cost of living crisis.

"We have never been overly flush with money and have always lived within our means," said Kate.

"Our rent has gone up which has impacted us a lot. At the same time, everything else has gone up like council tax and energy bills. All the rises build up so we have to watch every single penny we spend.

"We don't drink or smoke or go out, and we have no hobbies. All we literally do is go to work and look after the kids. I don't know what we are doing wrong in the grand scheme of things to be working so, so hard and being stuck in this loop."