Marek Powalski says the rise in petrol prices has doubled the cost of filling up his car, which he needs to visit the patients he cares for in his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent
Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
Like many people, Marek Powalski is concerned about the rise in the cost of living. But his more pressing concern right now is labor costs.
The NHS Community Support Worker pays for his work.
The sharp rise in petrol prices has doubled the cost of refueling his car, which he needs to visit the patients he cares for in his hometown of Stoke-on-Trent.
Although he’s reclaiming some of the mileage, the amount he’s getting hasn’t been increased to reflect skyrocketing prices at the pumps.
“We feel the pinch massively. I pay the NHS for my work,” he says.
He adds: “More and more employees are overwhelmed. Some people lose 120 pounds a month.
“To make up for the shortage, employees are working extra shifts so they have less time with their friends and families just to make sure they have enough food.
“I speak to employees who are in tears. The pressure this creates causes people to leave with stress, and that then creates more workload for others.
“They say the NHS is creaking. For me it’s as good as broken.”
Mr Powalski, 49, says the rise in petrol prices isn’t the only way the cost of living is affecting people’s lives. Many of the patients he sees don’t have enough money to eat.
“I buy food for the patients I see out of my own pocket because they don’t have any,” he says.
The NHS worker was one of hundreds of people who took part in the TUC’s Stoke Deserves Better rally earlier this month.
Almost everyone in the audience is affected by the cost of living crisis.
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Ian Poole, 49, from Birmingham, GMB unionist working in a supermarket. He says his colleagues are desperate as they try to make ends meet.
“We’re at a point where many retail workers can’t afford to shop at the stores they work. You have to go to a discount store.
“In a recent survey of retail workers, there was a high percentage who used grocery banks or needed to borrow money from friends and family.”
Mr Poole’s wages will rise from £9.66 an hour to £10.10 an hour from July but says the 54p increase will be “eaten up very quickly” by inflation.
Father-of-one says he and his wife keep their heads above water by not going out.
“As grocery bills go up, our socializing disappears. It lies between the or heating, food and clothing. Going to the pub is a thing of the past,” he said.
Bloomberg via Getty Images)
For many of his colleagues, the situation is even worse, he says.
“People cannot afford housing or rent. For a lot of people, the idea of climbing the real estate ladder will never materialize,” he says.
He fears increasing competition among big supermarkets to attract less-expensive shoppers will lead to job losses.
“When the cost of living starts to fall, retailers will go to war. Their first instinct is to start cutting costs, and that means off the shop floor and less overtime,” he says.
Adam Colcough, who works for a distribution company, says people are “really scared” about how they’re going to pay their bills.
“I volunteer for a local mental health charity and people are struggling. The stress of unsafe work is detrimental to their health,” he said.
In the main shopping area of Hanley in Stoke, almost everyone the Mirror spoke to feared the situation would get worse.
Kate Donaldson, a 63-year-old nursing assistant, said she downsized from a townhouse to an apartment to save money.
Her greatest concern was the future of her family. “What do they have? They have nothing. The world needs a big shake up somewhere,” she said.
Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
Menik Udaveediya, mother of three, was also worried about the rising costs. “It’s only going to get worse. My heating is very expensive and clothes go up. I live with my three boys and you know how teenagers are, they all want branded clothes,” she said.
Pensioners Grace and Peter Kenworthy said they were making ends meet. It helped that they didn’t smoke or drink, they said.
“I have a small private pension and I get disability housing benefit, but if they took that off me, I’d be on the gay street,” Grace said.
“We’re concerned, but there’s no point in worrying about it. You have to face it. It will make you sick if you keep worrying,” she added.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/im-carer-cost-living-crisis-27231613 "I'm a carer and the cost of living crisis means I'm paying the NHS just to do my job."