A pregnant teenager has spoken of how she feels ‘lost’ after being denied access to Jobseekers and other benefits for the past four months.
The 18-year-old said she felt like ‘tearing her hair out’ because of the issue, which has left her penniless.
Speaking to the Journal, she described how she has had no money since leaving the home she shared with a relative in County Derry.
She is currently being housed in emergency accommodation in Derry and is reliant on hand-outs from St Vincent de Paul.
She has also had to ask a friend for money for electricity.
The young woman said the complications seemed to stem from a two-year training course she left some time ago because of difficulties in funding the trip to and from Derry to attend it.
She said that she lived with another guardian at the time she was in the training programme and that money was then paid to them directly while she was at the training course.
The girl said that this guardian has since told her that it has been cancelled and the payments have been stopped, but the young woman said she seems to have got lost in the system.
“Because I left the course early before my two years were up it should have automatically cancelled,” she said. “That’s what I was told.
“I knew that whenever I left the house automatically you can apply for Jobseekers, but I don’t know, I’m lost.
“I’m ready to tear my hair out. Not being able to go out, buy my own shopping or go over the town and get clothes.”
The girl said she was hoping the situation would be resolved well before she is due to give birth, but said she could not be 100% sure whether this will be the case.
In a direct appeal to those with the power to address her situation, the girl urged the government to treat her case and other people in similar positions as a priority.
She said that she has been referred from the authority that issues Child Benefit to the dole office and back again as she tried to sort out the matter.
When contacted regarding the young woman’s concerns, a spokesperson for the Department for Social Development said:
“Whilst we are unable to comment on individual cases, we are aware of this case and are continuing to investigate what support can be offered.”