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‘We’re having to cut back on food’: Inverness mum battling cancer speaks out as 8,000 Scots die in poverty every year

Melanie Armer is struggling to cope with rising costs.
Melanie Armer is struggling to cope with rising costs.

An Inverness mum battling an aggressive form of cancer has said her family is having to cut back on food, electricity and gas as cost of living rises.

New research by Loughborough University found that 8,200 people in Scotland are dying in poverty every year.

In a report based on these statistics, Marie Curie found that working-age people who are terminally ill are at high risk with more than a quarter of this group dying in poverty.

Melanie Armer was diagnosed with terminal metastatic bone cancer in March 2021.

The 48-year-old lives in Inverness with her husband and seven-year-old son and said not having enough money to sustain her family is now her “biggest fear” due to the rising cost of living.

She said: “I have a seven-year-old son and we’re having to cut back on food, electricity, and gas.

“We’re having to now see if we can get nurses to come round and take my bloods here instead of going to the hospital – just to try and save money on petrol.”

‘There’s no way we’re going to be able to afford it’

Living in the Highlands, the cold makes Mrs Armer’s bones hurt, but rising energy prices are preventing her from using the heating more.

“With the rising heating bills, it was never a problem before, but it’s how it is now,” she said.

“We have to keep the house warm, but with the energy prices going up we can’t do that. There’s no way we’re going to be able to afford it.”

Mrs Armer even admitted to stockpiling blankets and hot water bottles for next winter.

A friend of hers recently launched a fundraiser to help her family cope with rising costs.

Dying in Poverty campaign

As a result of the report’s findings, Marie Curie has launched its Dying in Poverty campaign, calling for a range of measures to help terminally ill people who are struggling with the cost of living at the end of their lives.

These include increasing the child payment for terminally ill claimants, extending eligibility for Scottish Carer’s Assistance and extending eligibility for Winter Heating Assistance.

Ellie Wagstaff, policy and public affairs manager at Marie Curie in Scotland, said: “The ‘double burden’ of income loss and increased costs brought on by a terminal illness can leave people struggling to make ends meet, and force those who were already on the threshold, below the poverty line, especially terminally ill people with dependent children.

“There is an urgent need for systematic reform from Scottish Government and Westminster to ensure that terminally ill people, their families and carers are not faced with unprecedented financial hardship in the final years, months, weeks, days and hours of their lives.”

The Big Food Appeal

The Press and Journal is working to raise awareness of food poverty, and the help available, through the Big Food Appeal.

We’re trying to debunk some of the myths around who can use foodbanks, while shining a light on the volunteers within our communities trying to ease the pressure many families are facing.

For more information, or to get involved with The Big Food Appeal, click here.

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