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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 24 October, 2014

Irish man considers joining British army to pull family out of poverty

The 25-year-old father of two said he was told he would be expected to spend six months in Afghanistan if he enlisted.

Image: army boots image via Shutterstock

AN UNEMPLOYED FATHER-of-two is considering joining the British army in order to escape from the daily financial struggle he faces to keep a roof over his family’s heads.

The 25-year-old, who has two young children, told TheJournal.ie that he had just €10 left last week to feed his family after paying his rent. Kevin* has previously worked in security and retail but said he lacks the qualifications to do a job that would support his young family.

“I had a great idea to start up a business last year but I was told that there was no [financial] support there for me so it was a dead end,” he said.

Having exhausted all of his options, he is now considering joining the British army, having already been accepted two years ago.

“I decided not to take it at the time, I suppose because I would have missed the kids and my fiancé, but now, after Christmas, I’m strongly thinking about it,” he said. “There are no opportunities here for me.”

We’re in debt with the youngest child’s creche but my partner insisted on sending her because obviously we want her to be learning and spending time with other kids, we’re in debt with the electricity company and they’ve put in a prepayed meter now. I had to borrow money from a friend last week but they don’t have it to give either, you know.

“I don’t want to get my legs blown off”

Kevin said he would have to be away from his family for at least six months for training if he did decide to enlist with the British army.

“They said they’s expect me to to spend six months in Afghanistan as well – I suppose they’re just telling me the truth, but I don’t want to get my legs blown off,” he explained.

I don’t know the last time me and my fiancée have had a night out. It’s our anniversary this week and I’d love to have a night out. The bottom line is that we have a lot going out and not enough coming in, we just can’t get ahead. I look at her crying every day, this week she’s worried sick about the rent and I can’t be looking at her like that.

Kevin receives €450 a week including rent allowance for himself, his partner and their two children and pays over €500 a month in rent. After rent, the family is left with €80 per person, per week to pay for food, bills, school and transportation costs for his eldest child, creche fees for the youngest child and other basic expenses. He said paying the €160 TV licence fee two weeks ago “crippled” them.

Constantly struggling

Jim Walsh of St Vincent De Paul said many families are in a similar situation, “constantly struggling and being forced to make choices”. “There has been a 100 per cent increase in people coming to us since 2009″, he said, adding that direct assistance is mainly for food, energy and education.

Walsh said that the government’s positive attitude about exiting the crisis is “not reflected in the people coming to St Vincent de Paul.

“The Budget has done nothing for people on social welfare, people on low income of even middle income – it certainly hasn’t improved the situation for anyone,” he said. “While the top-line figures might stay the same, the regulations and criteria are constantly changing so it’s more and more difficult for people to access payments.”

*The man who spoke to TheJournal.ie did not wish to be named.

Read: Former Mountjoy governor: Dole cuts likely to push young people into criminality>

Read: Burton: ‘Welfare savings is one of the reasons we could reduce Budget adjustment’>

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