Kevin Murphy, 59, moved to Salisbury to live with his partner after becoming unwell after spending 40 years in the glass trade.

Having moved in with his partner, who had been badly injured in a fall, led to her having her benefits cut, because Murphy owns a “almost derelict” flat in London he is attempting to sell – but which listed as an asset.

Until the flat is sold, neither can receive any financial support. Murphy is attempting to go bankrupt, in £50,000 worth of debt, but cannot legally do so until he receives benefits.

The family, who have two children aged seven and 11, are £600 overdrawn every month once rent, food, gas and expenses are paid out.

People were throwing credit cards at me and I was catching them. It was irresponsible lending, I walked into Santander and asked for money to buy a car, and walked out with £20,000, and I turned round and said to them ‘I can’t pay you back’ and they said never mind.

And I ended up in £50,000 worth of debt. I made a lot of mistakes, but I was working and doing well. But things catch up with you when you get older.

I’ve worked since I was 17, I worked in the glass trade in London, but last Christmas I had a colonoscopy, and they diagnosed me with ulcerative colitis.

My girlfriend has always had mobility issues, I joined her here in September, and I’ve been off work since, with flares up of colitis.

I had to go to the Citizens Advice, because they cut all her benefits altogether when I moved in, because of the flat I owned. It has got deadly serious; they are talking about evicting us from the house. You get no advice at all.

I wanted to go bankrupt and use the flat to be swallowed up in the debt. But they class it as cash you can use for everyday expenses. I can’t use it to pay a bill now, can I?

All of this I did not know, and through not knowing how to play the system, I’ve got my family and myself into a position where we could be evicted.

The flat’s on the market now, but it’s been the most stressful six months; my colitis has been brought on by stress.

When I used to work in the glass trade, everyone knew me. I went for a job as a pizza delivery guy, and they wanted a CV. I’ve never had one of them.

My partner went to an assessment by Atos, and got the benefit taken away, she has osteoarthritis. We’re waiting for the appeal to go through.

I think the kids do know, even though you don’t talk about it.

I have bought them presents; I don’t want anything for myself. We won’t be getting anything. But for me, this is the time of year we can’t show our kids that there is anything wrong. Some people say that’s wrong, but I prefer the kids not to know anything about it.

We got a Christmas hamper from the food bank, Christmas pudding and mince pies, a Yule log. The little things they like, it’s so important.

We’ve managed to decorate their rooms, and as soon as we did that, we were told we’d be moved into a two bed flat, and so our children will share a bedroom. So now we are just biding our time here, the house hasn’t been decorated any more.

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  • I found out later that a side effect of the medication, on steroids, is that I am angry constantly, shouting at the kids, at my partner. As soon as I do it, I realise it’s a strange reaction.

    I’m constantly angry, the stress and the medication. I have diabetes too, I can’t control it with willpower anymore. It has taken a huge toll on my health.

    I had to work out the weekly budget, and we found out it was in minus every week. It works out per month, without housing or council tax benefit, being £600 in the red.

    The food bank has been a lifeline. I was in a real bad way last Friday, I was desperate for a different opinion, a bit of help, and they gave me another voucher for it. Thank goodness. I’ve used it three times in the last three months.

    We’ve had a notice to evict us, but I’m really hoping it won’t happen before Christmas. I don’t know where we could move all our possessions, where do we go