Johanna Lapsley worries constantly about her family ending up homeless again. She is barely able to survive on universal credit as a single mother of two young daughters, and if her rent went up she would not cope.
“I’ve never felt such a failure in my whole life,” she says. “I’m not in a financial situation to buy a house and pay for a mortgage. I just felt so powerless watching my children cry, because they missed their home, and trying to explain to them why we weren’t allowed to live in the house anymore.
“They are primary school age and learning that some people own houses and some people rent, and it’s technically not theirs but they are allowed to live there.
“My oldest child struggles with anxiety. She’s been through a lot in her short life. My greatest worry is that my landlord will put my rent up, and then we would be homeless again. I just pray every day that it won’t go up. I have hardly any money left over. I prioritise my children. I pay my bills.
“But we don’t have any disposable income. We don’t go on holiday. I can only afford one treat a month for my children. Last month that was two scoops of ice cream for £4.30. This is all I can afford for my children. This is their life.”
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Johanna was a social worker but she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome – a serious, long-term illness which leaves people facing extreme tiredness and often unable to work. She split from her children’s partner in 2015 and moved out to the Isle of Lewis with her two daughters, who are now 12 and 10, where they had a lovely and peaceful life.