A desperate mum left with just 14p to her name has told the full story of her plight as the cruel regime of Universal Credit and helpless authorities leaves her on a cliff edge.

The story of Rachel Finn moved the nation after she was seen on BBC News breaking down in tears and emptying her pockets of 2p and six 1p coins.

Dozens of generous Brits have come forward to offer help to the homeless mum after TV cameras on Wednesday night showed her returning from a foodbank to her temporary accommodation.

Now the 39-year-old has revealed how devastating depression led to her being passed "from pillar to post", struggling to feed her son and left at the mercy of the brutal Universal Credit system.

Rachel said: "My depression got really bad and I wasn't getting the help I needed. I didn't get out of the house for three months. I just sat in my bedroom and it just escalated. 

"There's a lack of support, getting a doctor's appointment was difficult. You just get passed from pillar to post, from council to crisis team, to doctor. 

"And that gets you even more depressed. You keep telling people your situation and repeating yourself, and getting nowhere."

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Rachel Finn hit the headlines after revealing she only had 14p to her name

Rachel is from Grimsby, where one in four residents are on low incomes and one in two children grow up in poverty.

Universal Credit, which was introduced in 2010 by the Tories, has "made it a lot harder", Rachel says.

She said: "They should never have brought it in, it's the worst thing they did. There's that many people struggling on it.

"You are getting paid once a month, if something happens in the middle of the month, you are in trouble. It's harder to budget.   

"When it was fortnightly, you didn't struggle so much or worry so much, you can budget for two weeks at a push, but not monthly."

In another cruel blow, Rachel is being punished for missing a job seeker's appointment which she was unaware of as she does not have a phone or an internet connection.

This led to her Universal Credit being sanctioned and a large amount being taken from her payment.

Rachel has been overwhelmed by the support she received
She says Universal Credit has made things a lot harder

This is why, when the television cameras came to her temporary home, she only had 14p to her name after enduring a particularly hard month.

"I'm struggling with myself," Rachel says. "I cry a lot, mainly when I'm on my own. But I'm getting there, I've got a lot to focus on, I just don't have the energy to do it."

Her son Bradley is 19 this month and Rachel says he's the only thing keeping her going, the only thing she has to live for.

"As long as my son is eating, I can manage," she says.

"He's a growing boy, he's at college four days a week so my main priority is making sure he's fed, he's happy - and looking for a permanent house."

She put 14p on table and said it was 'all her money in the world'
Rachel's tears broke the nation's hearts

But with her next Universal Credit payment coming just five days before Christmas - on the 20th - she hasn't yet been able to buy her son a Christmas card yet, which she said "hurts" but "it's good that he's old enough to understand".

Rachel says she sees a lot more people struggling now, compared to five or 10 years ago. 

"Everyone says they can't help you, so they pass you on to everybody else," said Rachel. 

"Sometimes it feels like you don't have a voice. You're on Universal Credit so you dont have a voice, or you're homeless so you don't have a voice. 

"We're still human beings at the end of the day."

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Since Rachel's plight was highlighted in the Mirror, Grimsby Live and the BBC, people have come forward with offers of help for the desperate mum.

One person has even offered to provide her with a place to stay other than the homeless accommodation she finds herself and her son in.

Rachel said: "I'm a bit overwhelmed, it's amazing. It's blown me away how many people want to help.

"But I didn't do this for that, I just wanted to get it out there I didn't expect any of it. It was just to make people aware of how bad it is in Grimsby. It's not just about myself."

Pam Hodge, founder of the Rock Foundation, says she doesn't expect things to get any better

Pam Hodge runs the The Rock Foundation Food Bank, based in the former Holme Hill School, and said you can make a donation to the foodbank and state that it is "for Rachel".

"She's going to need everything for the home such as furniture, a cooker, a bed, electrical appliances - you name it," she said.

"If they give her money it could affect her benefits.

"She's been overwhelmed by the generosity and is keen for it go to help other people as well.

"People have been very generous, and it's raising awareness of what's going on in Grimsby, Rachel is just one of many.

"If you make a donation to the foodbank then everyone can have a good Christmas."

From left, Val Rawden, church volunteer, Tom Hodge, assistant pastor, Simon Willits, church pastor, and Pam Hodge, founder of the Rock Foundation

Pam said Grimsby is a "very deprived area" with fourth or fifth generation unemployment.

A once thriving fishing industry is all but gone, and the town is starved of "big developments and tends to be forgotten."

"We've been forgotten about for many years," Rachel says. "But with Universal Credit it's made it even more difficult. People are struggling to budget for even a week.

"People who are are in debt are finding the authorities can take 40% straight from your Universal Credit when you get it. 

"It's sheer desperation."

Pam said in November last year roughly 700 people come into the foodbank. This November it was 1,600.

She said: "It's a lot to do with Universal Credit. There is a lack of employment. The North gets ignored."

Pam said the foodbank volunteers are on their toes every day trying to find enough food to feed people

Pam started the charity 10 years ago and the foodbank five years after that. 

"10 years ago you would have never thought we'd need a foodbank, but there's a clear need for it," she said. 

"We are on our toes all the time trying to get enough foot to feed people." 

And Pam says she doesn't see things getting any better.  

"If something doesn't happen, where are going to be in five years time?"

Pam said Bradley, Rachel's son, has his birthday just after Christmas and, like any other lad, there is one thing he desperately wants - a bike so he can ride around with his mates.

Singer Lily Allen joins appeal

Singer-songwriter Lily Allen has thrown her support behind a campaign to raise thousands of pounds for Rachel with a generous cash donation.

The 34-year-old singer-songwriter donated to a Just Giving page set up by Hannah Parkinson. 

At 5pm yesterday, Hannah set a target of £10,000, but admits she wants to raise more than that to sufficiently support Rachel and Bradley.

Lily Allen is amongst those to pledge her support

The Just Giving page was originally set up with a £2,000 target but as this was met within an hour, it was raised to £5,000 and now £10,000.

Hannah said it is a “moral disgrace” that people have to live in such poverty in 2019.

Her Just Giving appeal reads: “Watching Rachel talk to BBC News about how she has just 14p to her name and is only staying alive for her son devastated me. I’m sure it devastated everyone who saw the clip.

“Nobody should be living – barely living – like this. Deaths from malnutrition in England and Wales are the highest they have been in a decade. Suicide rates in Britain are the highest in past 17 years.

“A UCL (University College London) report found in 2016 ‘an estimated 9,000 people died last winter in England and Wales as a result of living in a cold home’.”

Lily Allen made an anonymous donation to the Just Giving page, meaning her amount is unknown.

Following this, further donations have been rolling in – again mostly under ‘anonymous’ names and with unknown amounts.

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As of 5.30pm yesterday, a total of £7,500 of the £10,000 target had been raised to support Rachel and Bradley.

It was expected to pass the £10,000 mark before 9pm, thanks to everybody’s generosity.

If you wish to support Rachel and Bradley, please visit the Just Giving page  here .