'I don't eat four days a week so my children can,' claims middle-class mother who cannot afford Christmas presents so is rewrapping their old toys
Vickie Robins, 31, and family ran out of money after she lost her care job
Lack of food made her collapse at nursery – doctors warn of heart attack
21:40 GMT, 30 November 2012
A mother-of-two who has fallen into poverty after losing her job has revealed the desperate measures she's had to resort to to avoid selling their home.
Care worker Vickie Robins, 31, does not eat for days at a time so she can afford to put food on the table for her sons Blake, three, and Thomas, 18 months.
She has shed two-and-a-half stone in the last month and is so weak she recently collapsed at her children’s nursery.
Struggling: Vickie Robins and her sons are in for a bleak Christmas now she has lost her job
Doctors warned the mother-of-two that, despite her otherwise good health, she was close to having a heart attack due to the stress she was putting her body under.
Mrs Robins, of Quedgeley, Gloucestershire, has also taken the desperate step of hiding her sons’ toys – so they will have something to unwrap on Christmas Day.
She said: 'I don’t eat for four days a week just so my children have enough food.
'My husband Matthew and I have had to sell everything we possibly can – our clothes, jewellery, toys.
'We are not putting the heating on at home, we have been close to losing our house. Our relationship has become very strained.
'We won’t be able to do Christmas this year. I have had to hide some of the boys’ toys to use them as Christmas presents.
Embarrassed and ashamed: mother of two Vickie Robins was initially shy about accepting Foodbank handouts
'We can’t afford to go and see Father Christmas, or to take them to their friends’ birthday parties because I can’t afford to buy them presents.
'I am the only one not going to my work Christmas party because I can’t afford it.'
The Robins family was plunged into poverty when Vickie lost her 22,000 care job in September last year.
Mr Robins, 31, and his wife have a total monthly income of 1,400 from their part-time work – Mr Robins works 40 hours a week as a landscape gardener and Mrs Robins works 30 hours a week as a carer. They spend 900 a month on the mortgage on their three-bedroom 140,000 home, and the rest is swallowed up by council tax, child care and bills.
They are now having to rely on handouts at Gloucester Foodbank, which they began visiting after Mrs Robins' collapse.
No present-buying this year: Vickie Robins has resorted to hiding some of the boys' toys to give as Christmas presents as they cannot afford new ones
She said: 'I was embarrassed and ashamed that I had to admit I needed handouts.
'I go without eating for days at a time, just to make the food last. Going to the Foodbank means we can all eat: I have been twice now, and they have been a lifeline to us.
'If we hadn’t had the food parcels we wouldn’t have eaten. I have now learned not to be embarrassed, they do amazing work.'
Three million people live below the poverty line in the UK, with many going hungry for reasons ranging from unexpected bills to redundancy.
Sold everything: Vickie Robins says she and her husband have sold most of their possessions to raise money for food
Foodbanks, an initiative founded by the Trussell Trust in 2004, provide a minimum of three days emergency food – from tea bags to soup.
A staggering 128,687 people in the UK were fed by foodbanks between 2011 and 2012 – a 100 per cent increase on the previous year.
Anneliese Sterry, manager of the Gloucester Foodbank, said the centre had seen a 25 per cent rise in demand in the last year.
She said: 'We have people coming in because they don’t have enough money to buy food or they have run out of food and can’t afford to get any more.
'We are increasingly seeing people like Vickie, parents not eating so that they can make sure their children are fed.
'The problem is that if the parents become ill because they are not eating, then who will look after the children'