Case study: Phil, 32, Ireland

*name has been changed

“I was 17 when I started working and I’d never claimed social welfare until last year when I lost my job. I’d been with the business for 10 years until they went into liquidation and it was bought by another company.

“I got another job with a different company, but there were loads of problems and no money coming in. I wasn’t getting paid and during those 6 weeks when everything was a mess, it got on top of me.

“I know I’m not the only person in the house, as there’s my wife as well, but it was my job to bring in the money. It was my job to finance my home and look after the kids. My wife started getting annoyed and we were arguing. There were bills coming in and I thought we’d sort it out, but we couldn’t as I couldn’t get any money out of the company.

“The bills built up and built up. I kept pushing to try and get paid and then they said my contract didn’t stand anymore and sacked me on the spot. I had to give my car back, I had to give everything back, my phone bill became my own. They gave me a week’s wages, but a week’s wages had to go on 6 weeks of bills.

“I had to pay rent, petrol and get a new school uniform for one of the kids. You start thinking, ‘Is it easier for them if I’m not here?’ I had to go on the social, but it doesn’t pay enough to support my wife and four kids. I’m in arrears with my rent and I’ve got to stump up some money soon or my car will be taken away.

“So you do think ‘Well if I’m not here she’d probably get more money for the kids, the bills would die with me, you wouldn’t be spending that much on shopping a week because I wouldn’t be eating, I wouldn’t be driving the car and using petrol’. That’s how it starts I suppose and if you say it enough times, you start to believe it.

You say to yourself you’re going to do it and then one of the kids will say something that’ll make a bit of a difference.
 

“I don’t know what stopped me from killing myself. You say to yourself you’re going to do it and then one of the kids will say something that’ll make a bit of a difference. Recently, I’ve been given the opportunity of work and I’m coming off welfare.

“I know the bills aren’t going way, but I’m busy trying to turn things around and see what I can do. The job's only a bit more money, but it's more money that I had last week.”