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I'm no scrounger

Anita Hull
Anita Hull

A mother has hit out at people "judging her" after her life on benefits was featured in the national press.

Anita Hull says since the story broke, she has been abused on Facebook and her kids called "scobes" and "scroungers".

The 38-year-old wants people to know she doesn't spend her money on luxuries and wants to return to work.

Anita, who lives with partner of 22 years, Steve Dalton, says she thought she was being featured in a story about big families.

But when it appeared, it wrongly said she has spent her benefit cash on a 60-inch television and a swimming pool.

They live on £450 a week child tax benefits, £120 a week child benefits, £129 a week in housing benefit and £35 a week Jobseeker's Allowance.

Anita said since the story appeared in a national newspaper last week, she has been inundated with hate-mail through Facebook from people she doesn't know.

The 38-year-old said one message said: "Why don't you stop breeding and go and get a job," and some of her children have been called "scobe", "skank" and "scrounger" at school.

And although she says she can understand why there is anger, she says people are too quick to judge.

She said: "If you have something to say then ask me. I talk my mind - I've got nothing to hide."

Anita says the reason she and Steve, 46, don't work is because three of their children are disabled and they are their full-time carers.

When she left school at 16, Anita went straight into work as a fruit packer for an agency, and then she moved to strawberry picking which she did right up until she gave birth to their first child Troy, now 21. Steve was working for a flooring company.

When Troy was born in October 1989, she went back to the agency and worked until her fourth child, Taaron, was born, in 1993. Steve also gave up work when Taaron was born because he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (water on the brain), cerebral palsy and epilepsy and would have up to 19 fits a day.

Although Taaron, 17, has now moved out with the help of Social Services's Independent Living scheme, Anita and Steve are also carers for Travis, 13, who has ADHD and autism and eight-year-old Trafford who has ADHD.

Anita says life as a full-time mum-of-13 isn't easy. She said when you're at work you get a break but at home it's 24 hours, seven days a week.

She said: "If you don't know somebody, then don't be so quick to judge.

"I want to work. I can't wait to get back to work. I'm not one of those people that sits about drinking and taking drugs.

"It's a full time job caring for the children."

Anita says the couple have looked for jobs but no one wants to employ someone that can only do a certain amount of hours.

"If it wasn't for the kids' disabilities, Steve wouldn't have come out of work at all," she added.

Another reason Anita thinks they have trouble finding work is because neither of them have references.

There will not be any more additions to the already full household as she has now been sterilised.

Anita Hull
Anita Hull

When asked why she thinks tax-payers should fund her lifestyle, Anita is quick to say she doesn't think they should and she can understand why people are unhappy.

She said: "If it didn't come out of tax payers' money and from another source I would be happy with that.

"It's not fair on the tax payer to pay other people's dole money.

"Somebody called me a scrounger on Facebook - but I think scrounger is unfair.

"What I get for my children from benefit money goes to my children, which is equivalent to anybody else with children.

"I can see why people are angry but they should also see my point of view and find out the truth before jumping in feet first.

"If someone said to me you shouldn't have so many kids I would say I live my life how I want to live it. Whether I was working or not, it wouldn't have changed what happened with my children."

Anita has vowed to go back to work as soon as her youngest children, twins Trey-Boy and Tilly-Jo, seven months, are at school full time and, she says, she will encourage all her children to go into work.

The couple's eldest three, Troy, Triston and Traci have all moved out and are still living on the Island.

Traci has a daughter of her own, Lilly-May, who is 11 months and Anita says Traci's partner works.

Triston has just got his first flat and now he's settled he is job searching constantly. Anita said: "I felt like I wanted the chance to explain.

"I have never ever said I would like more money because at the end of the day, yes I'm on benefits and I'm happy to receive anything.

"The cut in benefits will make life harder but you adjust and you manage and you find a way of coping.

"If I could start over - I wouldn't change the amount of kids I have got but I think I would have stuck to my job."

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