Who Benefits? is looking for stories from anyone who has ever received working-age benefits support, such as:
The campaign is not about pensions or other retirement-age benefits.
I've needed support from benefits because I was out of work for two years. I've worked all my life apart from then and was applying for jobs all that time – everything from admin roles to basic manual jobs – but it was extremely difficult to get anything.
The flat I was living in was mostly being paid for by housing benefit but I had to top the rent up from my Jobseekers' Allowance. After bills I didn't have much left to live off. Eventually I had to move out and live on a bed settee in a friend's office.
Without this support I would be on the streets. During those two years I relied on benefits, but I can't say it fulfilled all my needs. It's alarming to think where I'd be without it though.
Fortunately, I am now working in a mail sorting office.
I've needed support from benefits because, as a mother of four, daily life can be a real struggle. Before we received support, I was forced to borrow from family and friends. I'm a full-time mum, and my husband has been working as a full-time mechanic for six years. It annoys me when I read how families who receive benefits are being labelled as ‘shirkers', ‘scroungers' or ‘work-shy'. Receiving support from Child Tax Credits is not a lifestyle choice for me – it's a necessity. It helps me to put food on the table for my family, buy clothes and school uniforms for my children and prevent the gas and electricity from being cut off. Without this support I don't know how we would survive.
I've needed support from benefits because when I was first diagnosed with bipolar the shifts in mood were so extreme I couldn't hold down a full time job. The stress was causing me to end up in hospital regularly. Benefits helped me cope with everyday living. Without this support I don't think my ongoing recovery would be as good as it is. I hope one day to be able to support myself as my condition becomes more manageable. But for now benefits make my life more bearable and through the darkest of times at least my basic needs are met.
I've needed support from benefits because when my husband left and I was made redundant from the job I'd had for more than six years – both in the space of just a few months – mine and my daughter's lives were turned upside down. I couldn't afford to keep the family house we'd been renting anymore, but benefits helped us find a new home. Without this support I would not have been able to get us back on our feet and get myself onto a teaching course. I'm studying to become a science teacher, a career that will allow me to fulfil my potential and provide for my daughter.
I am single parent to my nine year old son and I work in a children's centre part-time. When I became pregnant with my son, my partner left and shortly afterwards I lost my job. It was devastating.
Even once my son started school, I struggled to find work. Not only were few jobs offering the part-time hours I needed to balance work and caring for my son, there was a severe shortage of childcare in the city we live in. It was a very difficult time. I am very grateful for the support from benefits we had while I was out of work, and for the continued support we get now, to help pay the essential food, housing and energy bills that my salary just doesn't cover alone. It is still a struggle, but I hate to think where we'd be without the support we've had.