End Young Parent Poverty: Hassan's story
Last updated: 11/09/2023
Hassan* is a 24-year-old single dad who lives with his two-year-old son in Edinburgh.
End Young Parent Poverty
Parents under 25 are entitled to a lower amount of benefits than parents aged 25 and over.
Find out more about One Parent Families Scotland’s campaign to award young parents under 25 a top-up payment through the Scottish Child Payment.
“I live in a flat with my son in Edinburgh. My family is from Somalia, but I was born in Norway and lived in London for a long time. I have one child – my son, who is two and a half years old. I’ve been raising him by myself for almost two years.
I’m not working at the moment, at least nothing concrete. I sometimes find jobs when there are events on, but those are only one-offs, nothing permanent.
My son goes to full time nursery. I look after him on my own five days a week. For the other two days a week I take him to my mum, his grandmother. So if I do have some jobs on those days, I will do them while my son is being taken care of by his grandmother, or I will rest for those days.
I was living in Somalia for two years until 2017. I decided to move back from Africa to the UK when I was 18. But when I came back to the UK, I found out my family had moved to Scotland without me knowing. They just moved to Scotland because it was a safer place to be than London.
I met my ex-wife here, three years ago now. But it didn’t work out and now we are officially divorced. I’m not in contact with her at all. Because of domestic violence, I was given full custody of my son by the courts. She caused harm to my boy when he was very young and for no reason and at the end of the day, my child’s safety comes first. I’ve had sole custody of him every since.
I’ve been getting support from various organisations like Four Square. I was doing some community work with them – I used to go 4 days a week, but I don’t go anymore because I’ve now got the qualifications I was working towards. I did a qualification in health and safety and in first aid.
I want to go to college, but it’s hard because I missed out on all my school qualifications. I had been living in London and would have done my GCSE’s, but I left the country at 15 when I was still at high school when I went to Africa for two years so I missed out on getting any exams at school. When I came back to the UK, I didn’t really know where to start or what to do. I didn’t know how it worked. I had no National Insurance number, no bank account. I was just confused when I was looking at college courses because they didn’t really know where to put me without any school qualifications. I didn’t know where I fitted in. Even if I had gone to college at that point, where would I have started? I felt like I was out of place and the only one that was sticking out.
But I’m applying for college now to do an HND in business. One day I want to own my own business and have branches in many different countries. I want to get up to speed with other people my age.
It is hard being a single parent. It comes with a lot of challenges – things that I’d never experienced before. I never imagined myself changing diapers, you know? Yeah, but I’ve been doing the work of a mother and a father. There’s a lot of juggling but I do get help from my mum and it’s been great as well, it’s also been a blessing.
People are generally nice because they can see they see that I’m doing all this by myself and they are actually surprised, to be honest, that I’ve done so well.
I’m on Universal Credit, it’s ok, but I only get £500 a month. It’s not enough. I can’t pay for gas or electricity. I’ve spoken to the council about this but they say because I live in a housing association flat I have to pay it, but I haven’t paid because I just can’t afford it. I need to pay for groceries and I have nothing left to pay for electricity and gas as well. I try to maintain the house, but I also have to spend money on looking after my son. During the winter we just lived in one room together because of the cold.
I will get £75 more per month in Universal Credit when I turn 25. It isn’t much to be honest, but I could buy some toys for my son or something or we’d be able to do something together. I don’t have any free time for myself, that comes with being a father of course. When I was on jobseeker’s allowance, it was better.”
*A pseudonym has been used for this story.