‘People can judge me as much as they want but I do not care’: Mother-of-11 who lives off her £1,000-a-month benefits blasts people who judge her as she says her children ‘get the care they need’
- Bethan and Andy Carter live with nine children with two already moved out
- Bethan, 40, is mother to five girls and six boys, from three to 23, Andy to 7 kids
- She and three of her children, from South Wales, suffer from epilepsy
A mother-of-11 who lives on benefits has hit out at those who judge her, saying her children ‘get the care they need’ with her on-hand to look after them 24/7.
Bethan and Andy Carter, of Briton Ferry, South Wales, have nine children at home aged between three and 16. Another two have already moved out.
Mrs Carter, 40, juggles looking after five girls and six boys all at once, with husband Andy father to seven of them.
She is severely epileptic and suffers memory loss as a result of a cyst inside her brain.
Three of her children also suffer with epilepsy and have several seizures a week.
Mrs Carter used to work in a cafe but quit her job when her son Mark was born 16 years ago and says she isn’t ashamed to live on £1,000 of government money a month.
Bethan and Andy Carter are pictured with six of the nine children they look after at home in Briton Ferry, South Wales. Another two have already move out
She said: ‘People judge me because I am on benefits, but unless you have a severely autistic child you can’t know what it is like.
‘I am happy with my family – I do not care what people say. They are happy and get the care they need.
‘They are loved. I find it very rewarding to be a mum. Being a mum of so many kids is hard but I love it – they are all so loving.’
Her eldest still living at home, Mark, 16, has particularly distressing seizures.
His mother added: ‘When he fits, he just collapses and, when he comes out of a fit, he screams. He can not handle the little ones and likes being on his own.’
With two washing machines and two dryers, there is washing on all the time and, with two bathrooms, Mrs Carter can wash three of the children at a time in the shower downstairs.
The Carter family go through three big boxes of washing powder every month.
‘Time flies and before you know it is bed time again,’ she said. ‘After dinner, they just play – there are toys everywhere.
‘I try to get them to sleep by 8pm or 9pm. I am up until midnight or 1am doing things around the house.
‘It is hard work to have that many children, but they are happy and they are very close to each other. I am happy I got sterilised but I do not regret anything.’
Commenting further on their daily routine, she went on: ‘I get breakfast and all the medication ready – there are a lot of meds in the morning and at night and I have to make sure everyone has their own medication,’ she said.
Five-year-old Marley Carter is pictured with a giant can of baked beans, purchased by his mother Bethan to make sure his eight siblings are fed properly
‘I put their clothes out the night before and a lot of them dress themselves but not all of them.’
Mark, 16, goes to Ysgol Maes Y Coed in Bryncoch and gets picked up by a taxi to go to school.
The couple take the rest of the children to school in two separate cars – a seven-seater and a five-seater.
Mrs Carter, who had her first child at 16, said that while the children are at school she spends her day cleaning and tidying up the house.
Then at 2.45pm she and her husband pick the children up from school and by 3.30pm they are all back in the house.
She said: ‘Then it is dinner time. I can not cook so I just try to make things quickly like beans or sausages.
‘I try to have dinner ready shortly after they get back from school. If it has been a long day and it is getting late, we will get a KFC or a McDonald’s.’
The family say they have fast food once or twice a week with each of these meals costing up to £35.
They also do a big monthly food shop at Farm Foods which costs £400. This includes around £30 on sausages and six boxes of 30 fish fingers for £20.
‘We get frozen food mainly because it is cheaper and more convenient,’ Mrs Carter said. ‘It is what they want.’
But she maintains the £500 twice-monthly payments of income support, child benefit and disability allowance aren’t enough.
Three-year-old Caitlyn Carter is the youngest in her family, with 10 siblings, eight of which live at home
She added: ‘It is not enough. I could take them all to town and spend £200 just on shoes for all of them.
‘We do not have any savings – all we have goes on them. We spend all year saving for Christmas.’
They are unable to go on holiday because being too far away from home upsets Mark’s routine.
But she said: ‘There are little breaks for the family as they never go on holidays, partly because Mark doesn’t like it.
‘If we go anywhere, we go somewhere for the day – normally Porthcawl,’
Currently, the family live in a five-bedroom house in Briton Ferry, with three of the girls sleeping in one bedroom and three boys in another.
The youngest one sleeps in the parents’ bedroom and then Mark and Amy – the two oldest – have their own rooms.
Mr Carter said: ‘I like having that many kids, it is always busy – it is non-stop. People can judge me as much as they want but I do not care.’
The family have recently been having problems with the roof over their back bedroom, which recently collapsed during a spell of bad weather.
A lot of water started coming through and the family was told a new roof was needed.
Mr Carter said some temporary measures have been in place by housing association Tai Tarian but the roof is still not fixed.
He said Mark sleeps in the bedroom with the damaged ceiling and has had to sleep in a different room.
Mr Carter said Mark doesn’t understand why he can’t stay in his room and that they have had to buy a new mattress and bedding after the water came through the roof.
‘I am worried the ceiling could collapse any time,’ he said. ‘It is not secure at all how it is now – it is going to cave in the moment it rains even a little bit.’
Andrew Carey from Tai Tarian said: ‘During the recent severe bad weather, we were made aware of the roof leak within the property and a temporary solution was carried out as soon as physically possible to stop the leak.
‘The permanent solution has been planned in and the tenant has been made aware of all our intentions.’
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