SODA Club Contact Details

There are many ways you can contact SODA Club, just choose one that is safe for you.

In order to join my secret domestic abuse support group, please send me your email address so I can send you a request to join

You can contact me through any of the above methods and if you want to contact via text or whatsapp, let me know


Dear Governement, I am a victim of Benefits Street Britain get me out of here!

I am 34 years old and single mum and long term unemployed. My local job centre referred me to a 2 year work programme to help me back into work.

Recently, my CV was put forward to a company with whom I got an interview and on the same day was asked to go in for two day’s training to see if I liked the job.

My advisor at the work programme prepared a calculation for me setting out how much better off I could be in work. The total figure he showed me was £133.90.

I left school at 14 (already passed my RSA 1 2 and 3), went to college for 3 years and got my first job with ease at 19. At 24 I was a victim of domestic abuse and, admittedly, lost my job as an office manager at a small firm of solicitors.
In 2009 I set up my own domestic abuse voluntary page; supporting victims of domestic abuse and to date I have constantly raised awareness for other through the media and on a voluntary basis.
I am on benefits and hate it, I despise the way it makes me feel and seems to have this overwhelming control over me. The way society looks at me with disgust, how people judge me and talk about me as though I am no one and nothing. I hate walking into the job centre every fortnight, it feels as though I am walking through the shadow of darkness, with all eyes on me, people talking and whispering about me. I hate being a dole dosser doing nothing for my self esteem self worth. I hate how I have to rely on the Government to home, feed and clothe my daughter.

We have all seen recent television documentaries and how they portray and perceive people who claim benefits, I hate how this makes me feel too. People are not all the same, they might have one huge similarity but how we deal with that makes us all very, very different.

Yes, I am long term unemployed but that does not mean to say I have never done anything active, and alone, to help change my circumstances. I have volunteered, gone on various training course, completed college courses and still, continually, run my domestic abuse support group.

However, like many single parents I want to get back into employment, the main reason, like everyone else, for money but with for other factors such as being a good role model to my 8 year old daughter.

Since being unemployed, I have heard and read various stories of people saying how difficult it is to get back into work and how they will be worse off in employment and for that reason they want to stay on benefits.
I could never understand that. Until now.

As I claim JSA I have to be actively seeking employment, this is something I do using Universal Job match, for the jobcentre to pay me and, now, I have to go to this 2 year work programme for extra support and help, getting me back into work.

My first visit to this work programme was 5th November 2013 and 7 months down the line an interview comes up.
I felt so excited and ecstatic to say the least because after applying for over 100 this was my 3 interview – the previous 2 being rejections. The interview was for a part time legal secretary. Fantastic! It is small company and the staff all made me feel very welcome. They were down to earth and I felt the interview went well. Obviously, they did too as they asked me to go back for two days training.

I went back and my initial feeling was it was like I had never left the legal profession and as though I belonged there. Great! I was even offered the job!

Of course I had to speak with my advisor first and get my calculations all worked out before accepting the job as well as try and arrange childcare for my 8 year old daughter.

In fact, it was only at this point I actually realised how hard it is trying to weigh up the pros and cons of going back to work and trying to arrange everything that goes hand in hand with getting back into work.

I am a single parent so for me childcare is a huge issue as well as travel costs as I don’t drive either. In the short term, my daughter could possibly be shared around with family but then we have the 6 weeks holiday coming up so I got quite excited about the childcare vouchers that are available. I was dismayed that I have to take a salary sacrifice to obtain the vouchers and I dread to think of the cost of child care during the six week holiday.

So the £133.90 per week that I am going to be better off is slight going down and we haven’t even included the travel expenses yet.
I would, obviously, have to take my daughter to the childcare so that’s added travel expense as she is over 5, I have to pay for her bus fare too so although it doesn’t sound a significant amount that is £2 extra a day, £10 per week in travel expenses.
I have paid my rent, council tax, childcare, travel expenses and then, like everyone else, obviously I have to pay my bills too. So the information my work programme advisor has given me telling me I could be £133.90 is very, very misleading.

It has taken me such a long time to even get an interview let alone be offered a job near enough straight away and for a while I felt good, like I had achieved something, like I was getting somewhere and as though I could have a financially stable future for my daughter and I. So, since Tuesday I have been working out what to do. Do I take the job or do I not?

With the job centre and the work programme if you don’t see work and if you turn down employment, they can sanction your money. Fair enough you might cry out and so they should you might say but on the other hand, if I do take the job on, I would be financially worse of and, in anyone’s eyes that is just ludicrous, isn’t it?

We all go to work for money not to feel good about ourselves because we all need money to provide for our family. Without money, I can’t keep a roof over my daughter’s head, I can’t put food at the table and I can’t put clothes on her back.
I made one mistake in 2004, I got into an abusive relationship and became a single parent – not through choice but through circumstances – and now it feels as though I am being punished for the rest of my life; dammed if I do, dammed if I don’t.
We have our Government telling us how they all want us to go to work – fantastic, but who, realistically will work for nothing – they won’t, they wouldn’t so why should I?

I am genuinely looking for employment but I want to know why the Government is making this so difficult for me and more importantly what are they going to do to make it easier for me?

Going to work for nothing is not going to benefit my situation whatsoever, I am stuck in a rut that I can’t get out of, no matter how hard I try. I get a pat on the back and a well done for the voluntary work I do, yet getting into employment is a different story.

From where I am standing the Government is treating all unemployed people the same and you cannot do that because we are all different! There are many people who are happy to be on benefits and want to stay on benefits but there are also people who receive benefits but who genuinely want to get off them completely and back into work so, in reality, we all need different support.

If you want parents back into work you have to give them the support they need in order to do that. Why can’t there be a free childcare scheme for parents who genuinely want to go back to work?

For those who want to stay on the dole, why not give them a fixed and less amount of money to live on and the money you save that way, put into a scheme to help others back into work!

For many parents wanting to get back into work, childcare is going to be a main issue so why make it a barrier for them?
We have Mr Iain-Duncan-Smith wanting to stop “Benefit Street Britain” but through my experience this week alone, I have no idea how he will be doing that. Do you?
The welfare changes “have helped people feel that bit more secure about their futures”, Mr Duncan Smith will say.

So what are my options?
• Take on the full time employment and be worse off
• Don’t accept the job and stay on benefits
• Try and find a part time job stacking shelves

We have David Cameron saying how a visit to the job centre every day will help the unemployed back into employment – please explain to me, how?

How can unemployed people get back into work when they have so many barriers stopping them?

Yes, there are jobs available but how are people supposed to go to jobs when they have to travel and childcare expenses that are ridiculously high?

Does our Government really expect us to go to work for nothing – they wouldn’t so why should I?

This week has been a rollercoaster of a ride for me. Happy and excited for getting an interview, amazed and overwhelmed I got two days training and even better, I got offered the job and back down on a low because if I accept the job I will be worse off.

What do I do?
What would you do?



I want to know what the Government is going to do to help me get back into work….

Hello, my name is Samantha Billingham.  I am 34 years old, I am unemployed, I claim benefits and I am a single parent. 

I left school, went to college for 3 years and got my first job in 1999 as a Legal Secretary.  I was a Legal Secretary for 6 years, I worked every single day, even if I was ill I went into work, I loved it.  In 2004 I lost my job as an Office Manager at a firm of Solicitors because I was a victim of domestic abuse, my perpetrator was so controlling, he locked me in the flat and wouldn’t let me go to work or to even phone in sick.

Since 2006 I have worked, to date, on a voluntary basis, raising domestic abuse awareness not only through social media networking sights but through the media too.  I run my own domestic abuse support group and generally support victims of domestic abuse on a daily basis.

As I have been unemployed on a long term basis, my local job centre referred me to a work programme who within 2 years are going to help me back into paid employment where I will find work and be better of as a working parent.


This week I sent my CV off to a firm of solictors, had an interview on Tuesday and two days training – they want to employ me full time.

My advisor at the working programme sent me this table showing me how much better off I would be working 40 hours per week earning £6.31.

I could be £133.90 better off in work per week says the table. 

However, the calculation doesn’t tell me that as well as my rent, council tax, NI and tax and travel has to come out of that.

Can someone explain to me, how this is making me financially better off? 

I am so angry and frustrated right now!  I want to go back into full time employment, I want to set a good example to my daughter, I want my career back, I want to be someone and do something with my life, yet Iam just faced with so many God damn barriers whilst having people who just don’t seem to live in the real world, judge me without giving me a chance!

The Government putting pressure on me, telling me to get back into work and off benefits – how, how do I do that where I will financially be better off – tell me what to do and how to do it!

Find a job with a higher salary, I hear you cry!  I haven’t worked for a long time, I need to start again, get up the career ladder, that’s going to take time to get a pay rise even, so start at NMW – and work for nothing? And work to get into debt?  WHAT IS THE POINT OF THAT?  How is that helping me?

Find a job that is part time hours then because you are still entitled to certain benefits – how will that benefit me and help me get off benefits completly if I am still getting help with rent and council tax! 

You, the Government make it so easy to be unemployed that you don’t give a damn about those who genuinly want to get back into work yet you sit there and judge me, talk about the unemployed, single parents and how we are dole dossers – what the hell are you doing to help me get back into work?

As a Government you give no incentive to people to go to work and then wonder why people don’t want to go to work!  I get a pat on the back and what a wonderful job I am doing with the volunteering work, yet when I actually need help into getting back to work, I get 2 months bus pass and vouchers for work clothes!  It is a disgrace!

Mr Osborne, Mr Cameron, do you think I should go to work and be worse off?  What do you suggest I do?

There are many genuine unemployed people who want to get back into work and you do absolutely nothing to help them, yet those who genuinly don’t want work you help them and give them everything!


Why do you do that?

Why should I got to work to get into debt?

So, what are you going to do to help me get back into work?  Are you going to pay my rent for me so I have a roof over my daughter’s head?  Are you going to pay our food bill so my daughter has food to eat?  Are you going to pay my £51 per month travel fare to get to and from work each day?  Are you going to pay my council tax?

Or are you going to make me go to work to be worse off than I already am?

Why aren’t you doing more to support people who go out and work.   You talk about ‘forcing’ single mums back into work, many who will be worse off and then you ask yourselves why so many people are unemployed!

With all due respect, are you people for real?!

The low down is, I have been offered a job that I would love to do, I can do the job and I have to turn it down because I will be WORSE OFF.

I am at breaking point, I don’t know what to do!  I volunteer and help support others, yet when it comes to me I don’t get any help at all!

So, what do I do now for the rest of my life? Volunteer and stay on the dole forever or is the Government actually going to help me?






It’s not an honor, it’s murder

David Cameron:

“I am absolutely appalled by the decision to sentence Meriam Ibrahim to death.  The way she is being treated has no place in today’s world.

Religious freedom is a human right. I urge Sudan’s government to overturn the sentence and provide support for her and her children.”

100 lashes for adultery and death penalty for her beliefs.

Woman sentenced to death for marrying Christian, hanged to death for her faith.

Why are some countries still living this way?  Religion goes back thousands of years but times are changing, shouldn’t people change with them?  However, I do feel this is nothing to do with religion, it is more about a woman having a voice of her own when men in this country are authoritive, in power with women’s thoughts, views, wants and needs just don’t matter.  Punishment for knowing her own mind and falling in love, nothing about turning against her religion.  What about her children, leaving them without a Mother.  It’s a hate crime, it’s murder, it is nothing to do with honor or even religion – what God would want this to happen?

In England, perpetrators of domestic abuse don’t even get this severe punishment for murdering their victims!

I have often commented on how England is such a very lenient country when it comest to punishment and “Justice” of crimes, however, I find it quite hard to believe women are still seen as inferior to men in other countries.

We worry about our youngpeople in this country and what their future holds for them here as the “weaker sex” but what kind of future do these young women have? Not being allowed their own freedom, voice or power; it is all about power and control.

David Cameron is absolutely right in his statement, however, shouldn’t this be the right time for this Prime Minister to actually foucs on how women and young girls are being treated in his own country and how domestic abuse has no place in today’s world?

We see many victims of domestic abuse who find the strength and courage to leave their abusive perpetrator – often with no help or support – only to be killed for forming and relationship and being with someone who is not controlling and because the perpetrator fears this rejuect and no longer have that power and control, they murder them – but what sentence does that perpetrator get?  What Justice is given to the victim and their family?

How is Meriam Ibrahim’s death sentence anything to do with honor?  Surely murder is not an honorable thing to do in any religion?

Yes, Religious Freedom is a human right but isn’t being able to live in a safe environment and not in a physically and psychological relationship too and who provides support for victims of domestic abuse and the children that are affected too?

Mr Cameron is all for supporting other countries and what is happening anywhere other than his own country, he needs to open his eyes and see that murder, death, power and control are consequences of domestic abuse that happens in this country EVERY SINGLE DAY yet we don’t see such media higlight about this, as though people in his own country, women in his own country don’t matter.

If he doesn’t want to tolerate this behaviour in Sudan then he shouldn’t be tolerating domestic abuse in England.