I am forgetful and always losing things, and I am forgetful. Some call this a symptom of cognitive impairment, having exceptionally low working memory; others say this is because I am a ditzy clumsy fuck. Either works. I’ve had a rather privileged upbringing. I live alone in pleasant student digs, and my life is financially supported by the government, by my parents, and by my part-time job, 9-to-5 for 3 days a week on holidays. Never before have I been financially insecure, never before have I needed to worry about eating.
So, at some point or another on Tuesday 15th March I must’ve made the mistake of putting both of my debit cards, from two different banks, in my jacket pocket; and I let it fall off my person and into the abyss. Opps. Thinking nothing of it, I just cancelled both of my cards and let my friend pay for my dinner.
“Silly Huw”, I thought.
Come next day I realised that: “oh.” I have literally nothing to eat. Having realised that neither PayPal, Apple Pay, nor any other electronic payment method of my own would work, a friendly receptionist informed me of the University of York Emergency student loan.
Most universities have emergency loans for those in need. This should probably be your first port of call if you ever come into financial difficulties on campus. To start off, I emailed the campus Finance Team. They responded on the hour and invited me to visit them.
A Student Financial Support Unit advisor asked me what my problem was, and talked me through the process of getting the emergency loan.The emergency loan is a zero-interest cash loan given by the university for those in immediate need, of up to £50. I promised to pay back the loan in two weeks, or first thing when my card arrived.
I filled in a form, and was then directed to The Payments Office. The Payments Office is located in The University Admin’s great depths – below the information centre, you press the buzzer, get let in, go down a corridor, and there it is.
At The Payments Office, you will get a signature, and be referred to the Cash Office located between the Student Support Hub and Information Centre on Market Square.
In the Cash Office I got a stamp, signed the stamp, and then officially became a scrounger of the university.
I used the money to buy myself lunch and dinner for two day, and on the second day, when I didn’t have work, I bought a bus ticket to the bank.
I mostly bank with HSBC, who advise:
If your debit card has been lost or stolen and you need to withdraw your cash before your new card arrives, just visit your local branch with some identification and the branch staff will assist you further following a few security checks.
Annoyingly, Banks are only open between 9am and 5pm, the exact hours I work. I went on the Thursday afternoon but by then they were closed.
However, Fridays are my days off, so I was able to arrive promptly in the morning.
I took out enough money to get a train ticket to London and some spending money because I had a ticket to Harry Potter Studio Tours for that weekend. I went to the station and bought the tickets to London, only to find that my railcard expired the previous week so I had to buy another.
Suddenly, I had no money again, so I had to resort to asking a friend of mine, a handy Jack Worrall, for a cash loan – leaving me feel very guilty, but also less hungry. Loans such as these are informal, require a high degree of trust, and put unnecessary strain on other individuals – avoid this option if at all possible.
I was able to go to London, where I lived relatively expense free round a friend’s house until I went to see Harry Potter Studio Tours, where I met family and was able to get enough cash to allow comfortable living until the card arrived.
Or so I thought.
After a week of working, my bank card still had not arrived. I was meant to be travelling home for the four day easter weekend, however came to some trouble because I had expected my card to have arrived by then. Thus once more was rather out of pocket. Please do not roll your eyes at me…
At this point I was referred to the Porters, who were able to give me a £20 loan, which I used to get to Leeds, where there were buses and trains to Bristol
Travelling home without cash or a debit card is rather difficult but there are ways that aren’t hitch hiking. –
Some trains, and all Megabus services use electronic tickets. This means that someone else can pay remotely for you to travel. Unfortunately the only megabus leaft far too close to when my work ended, so I ended up using a late night electronic train ticket, which arrived at the same time. Upon getting to home, I was able to access all my funds, and thus this whole mess was finally over.
There are a few simple ways that you can avoid this whole mess happening to you:
You can either gradually save up emergency cash in case of situations like this, or you can invest in a top-up debit card, which you can store in case of emergency, and can be topped up externally.
This whole experience has been quite the culture shock to me. I’ve never felt quite so unprotected or unsupported, and yet I have had so many support networks that I’ve been privileged enough to be able to rely on.
Other students I’ve spoken to have had to seek funds through, pawning personal possessions, sex work, other informal employment opportunities, Pay Day Loans, through loans from friends, and through Food Banks.
Having known what an awful having experience it is to have just the littlest bit of safety taken away from my otherwise easy life, I felt compelled to donate some money to The Trussell Trust Food Bank, I know that’s gimmicky, but i feel that if I do this whenever I lose my card it will serve as a deterring punishment to myself, whilst doing others some good. I encourage you to do so to.
I reverted to middle class home comforts that may have been swiped from the table opposite, lifting my mind away from this whole mess.