I have the grant assessment from the Diocese now.

I would not be able to train full-time if I didn’t get a grant and I am grateful for this life-line. Rent is paid, I’m fed by college 5 days a week in term time, and there’s money to spend on top. Except it’s quite a small amount. From the budget sheet I think it’s a bit less than £400 a month for everything else. Seems fine till you chip away at it with the regular outgoings… Having been over my head in debt in the past I am very keen not to have to resort to credit cards and overdraft for everyday things.

It has been suggested I set up a stewardship account and allow friends to contribute towards books, gin, and fun. I feel terribly guilty about this.

I have had two years to prepare. If I had handled my finances better years ago, I could have saved more. If I had not met friends in the pub or gone away for weekends I could have saved more. If I had not given money away to charities I could have saved more. If I had not moved jobs & taken a pay cut I could have saved more. Instead I was paying off credit cards (down to about £975 now, which is quietly sitting on a 30-month 0% card), happily drinking beer and generally having a social life. I have, in the last year, created a Running Away Fund For Dire Emergencies – but it is sacrosanct. And there is cash stashed for a new pair of glasses, contact lenses, running shoes, some new clothes before I go, plus Greenbelt, living costs when I stop working, etc. But still – two and a bit pay cheques left – yikes. My ability to buy a new laptop depends on how much deposit I get back when I leave the flat, for example.

So essentially a stewardship account feels like me saying ‘I squandered the last two years salary, and mishandled finances before that, now please bail me out.’ When we all have demands on our finances why should it be me that benefits? I honestly don’t feel worthy of that. I am grateful for what I will receive, and although I’m frustrated at some of the Diocesan rules, I don’t have a great sense of entitlement. I do have a fierce sense of independence. Ask my Mum how long it took to persuade me to accept her offer of a significant percentage towards a possible holiday. And the vicar will tell you that I originally turned down the pilgrimage last year.

What I’m hearing from friends though is that they want to help.That it’s OK to say ‘this is going to be hard, will you help with the things that will help?’ because friends want to be part of the journey. And despite my fierce independence and dislike of being the sponger I was prepared to accept the odd bottle of gin or a loan of books – I’d joked about getting £3 a month sponsorship for gin purposes. Just had never thought about more.

It’s just hard, OK? What is it OK to spend other people’s money on? I hate wearing glasses, so is it OK to spend your money on my vanity? Is it OK to spend your money on my books? I’m tired and need to see a friend, is it OK to spend your money on train fare to London?

I may not appear gracious about the offer of financial support, and I hope this blog explains why. I am genuinely overwhelmed by the friends lining up to start this journey with me. The fastest way to make me cry is to remind me that I am loved. So, thank you.