A SINGLE mum has revealed she has to make sandwiches for her seven kids in advance as she can't afford a full week of electricity.

Young widow Michaela Hayden, from Birmingham, has to use flasks and candles while the family huddles together in one room to stay warm when their meter runs out on Sundays.

She puts £50 in the meter every week, which she says used to last for a week and a half but now doesn't even keep the house warm and lit into Sunday evening as the cost of living crisis bites.

Spiralling inflation means she has no spare cash to pay for more electricity, leaving her and the kids forced to manage in the cold and dark.

Michaela lost her husband several years ago and struggled to make ends meet during the pandemic.

However, soaring prices now make it harder than ever for her to get by with her children, aged 14, 13, 11, nine, seven, five and one.

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She told Birmingham Live: "Since I lost my husband, I live day by day, I don’t plan ahead. And that’s been working so far.

"But, in all honesty, I’m not coping with the cost of living crisis. The anxiety it causes is making me unwell. By the time I’ve bought food and paid my bills. I’ve got nothing left to put into the gas and electricity meter. So I get cut off."

She added that she is sometimes able to borrow money from friends or get emergency credit from the energy company, but most of the time she and her children just have to manage.

The suffering mum also explained how she has to make "picnics" for the family as they can't afford to cook a meal.

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She said: "I have candles, flasks and torches ready and lots of blankets and jumpers. If we’ve not had tea, I make cold sandwiches and we have a picnic all huddled up in one room.

"I try to make it exciting for the children whilst I sit there worrying in the dark.

"The trouble is I know it will get worse. And that I will become more anxious. I cannot see where my money is going."

For Michaela, Christmas is just not a possibility this year due to the huge increase in pressure on her bank balance.

She explained that this year, Christmas will "just be a normal day" for the family.

It's also becoming harder for her to hide her anxiety from the children, as she said that some of the older kids are now picking up on her stress and she has to cry alone in her room to avoid worrying the children.

It has apparently got to the point where some of her kids are telling her not to give them pocket money so she can use it to pay the bills.

Michaela gets some support from the nearby Oasis Academy Community Hub, with the charity setting up warm rooms for parents to use across the UK.

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Other support for those struggling include direct support with bills from the government for people on low-incomes as well as various independent charities and food banks.

You can find information about your nearest food bank on The Trussell Trust's website, while information on other support can be found by searching "cost of living support" online.


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