Denied A Home Because Of My Degree And Baby

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Despite wanting to better her chances of securing a stable career, Camila faced many obstacles trying to find a home and a university place while looking after her son

Camila Dias Column 1

Having a child at a young age taught me a few valuable life lessons. What I want to talk about is not the struggle of having a baby, but the struggle of trying to move forward in a society that judges and looks down on teen parents. I recently found myself in a situation which really opened my eyes and made me realise how difficult it will be for me to succeed as a young mum.

When I had my son at 17 years of age, I knew I wasn’t going to let go of my dreams and career aspirations. I began working as soon as I could, but quickly saw history repeating itself; working to pay bills, in a job where I wasn’t passionate and chances of progression with a baby and not much flexibility were close to none. Not too different from how my mum had lived with my little sister and I.

I wanted more for myself and for my son. I got back into education which meant I had to claim benefits. I spent two years trying to finish college and thankfully secured my place to study at university, only to learn that I would lose all entitlement to benefits and would no longer receive help with housing. I found myself homeless and was forced to move back in with family, where of course there was no space for my son and I.

The move was stressful on both my son and I, with all our belongings stacked in cardboard boxes. The council practically washed their hands off me so I was left with private housing, where I was faced with more problems, either no housing benefit accepted, no children accepted, or no students accepted. I found the last one so ridiculous, that they would even consider me a typical student (I was hardly going to have parties every night with a toddler).

Eventually I decided to write to my local MP, it felt like the only thing left to do. In the letter I explained my situation; I didn’t think it was fair that because I wanted to make something of myself I would lose all support. I didn’t want to spend all my life on benefits depending on taxpayers money and the government, so why were they making it so difficult for me to move forward? After all, I was asking for one of the only rights I have as a British citizen – a place to live.

It isn’t fair that if I decided to stay at home and have more kids and do nothing with my life, my benefits will double and I would receive a council flat no questions asked, and it’s not just in this type of situation that you see this. Families all across the UK who work hard for their pay cheque and leave their children in day-cares most of the day to bring in money are only just better off, if that, than families on benefits. It is almost as if the message being sent is; if you work hard you have more to lose, and if you do nothing you receive all the support. It makes me wonder what type of society my son will be growing up in, as work ethic will probably slowly begin to disappear if that is the message being sent.


Feature image by Camila Dias. 

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