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Pride stopped single mother from visiting food bank

GHAZA Hakeem says her pride wouldn't allow her to use a food bank.

"It would hurt me to be seen there, affect my self confidence," she says.

Another participant in the Poverty Truth Commission, Darren, says in its new report "I would rather crawl on my hands and knees over broken glass than go to a food bank".

Ghazala agrees: "I'd rather not eat," she says. "But it is different when you have a child."

With her 13-year-old daughter Isha having suffered from epilepsy and a benign brain tumour, which was recently removed, she acknowledges that pride can be a luxury for people facing poverty. But her self esteem has been boosted massively since joining the PTC, she says. "I've gained a fearlessness about speaking out on issues that affect me."

She is a divorcee, single mother, a Muslim female former victim of domestic violence. But it is too easy to label people, she says. She is also claiming benefits — she suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME and can't work. Like the report, she is angry about the stigma attached to those on benefit.

She hasn't faced the benefit sanctions which the report also criticises. But she has been a victim of the iniquitous powercard meters, which see people in poverty charged more for electricity and gas. "I had a prepayment meter when I first came to Glasgow. I didn't realise they actually charge a lot more."

Now she is involved in a panel which is pressing power companies to make payments fairer for those on low incomes.

Engaging people in poverty in finding solutions to it is vital, she says. "We need to be in the heart of the process. People in government or large organisations talk a lot but nothing really happens. We have to be there when you are making decisions and our voice needs to be heard."

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