With the country in the throes of a cost of living crisis, many people are feeling the financial squeeze more than ever.

Energy bills are set to soar, VAT is on the rise and the whole situation is worsened by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

People are being forced to make a choice between heating their homes, or feeding themselves and their families.

The T&A has visited a number of food banks across the Bradford district over the past few weeks, as the dreaded bill and VAT increase looms.

The amount of working people - such as NHS staff - that were having to use these voluntary-led and funded services to simply live was striking.

I wanted to see first-hand the difficulties of living on the bare minimum and so used a calculator from Money Saving Expert to work out what I would have to live off for a week after bills.

The premise was that I would be helped by Job Seekers Allowance and other Government support services and would need to pay a mortgage, bills and other outgoings.

I live with my parents, so I worked it out as if I had my own place.

It worked out that I was left with £12 to spend on food for the week and any other items I might need, that were not included in the calculation.

The bills included electricity, water and Wi-Fi - so I could work from home - but did not include gas, meaning no heating or direct hot water.

There was also no room to afford running a car, having Netflix, Spotify, a gym membership, or a TV licence - all things I had become accustomed to and taken for granted over the years.

I started the week with a false sense of optimism; getting a schedule in order and having things to do at set times was somewhat of a energising prospect in contrast to my usually more spontaneous lifestyle.

A key part of this was meticulously planning what I was going to buy from the supermarket before I headed there - figuring out what meals I could make in order to fill a full week and pricing that up.

The main "bulk" meal for the week was a chilli con carne, which would tick off three evening meals, with beans on toast also appearing a lot on the weekly menu.

Breakfast solely consisted of own-brand Choco Pops, a small treat in the mornings, and then lunches included ham sandwiches, soups and noodles.

I walked to Morrisons - a one mile journey I'd inexplicably drive usually - and spent several hours changing my mind on what to get, rejigging the budget, changing meals and finding replacements for items that weren't available.

One item I couldn't forego was the exact mince I wanted, as it was specifically priced, and so off I went to the nearby Aldi, with my full bag of shopping, getting drenched in a downpour on the way there and then on the return home.

It was tedious and my mood became reflective of the weather, with my arms aching from carrying one simple bag of shopping.

But throughout the week I constantly reminded myself that I was having it easy here - this is the reality for so many in our district week-in, week-out, often with many more shopping bags and longer distances to travel too.

The big batch of chilli made three hefty portions and they were really quite filling.

One thing that hit me throughout the days without that meal to rely on, was a constant gnawing hunger.

Part of this has to do with me having a big appetite and not being in the peak of my health prior to this, but by counting the calories, it was easy to see the spread of the food I was able to get on £12 really did lead to some days where I, worryingly, dropped below the 1,000 calorie mark.

Snacking went out the window and on two occasions my mettle was really tested, with my parents' tasty treats sitting in the cupboards.

The first time, I resorted to nibbling on some of the ham slices I'd bought mainly for sandwiches, but this later meant I had none to add to a basic pizza I'd got as treat for the Friday.

The second time, I was running very low on supplies, other than some easy peeler oranges, so opted for some of those to fight the urge.

Showers were out of the question, with no money for gas heating, so I boiled the kettle, filled the bathroom sink and had a wash from there.

Entertainment was also an interesting conundrum.

I have an Xbox and a laptop computer, but I wanted to be as strict as possible and the reality of living on this budget would mean I'd probably have to sell these items.

I took my first ever trip to my local library, just a stone's throw away, where I signed up and took out a book, which I have been racing through ever since.

As the week trundled by – and believe me, it really did drag – my resolve began to splinter and I loosened some of the super strict guidelines, but within reason.

One example that encompasses that, and gives an idea of how mentally challenging living on such a small amount of money can be, was my usual five-a-side football on Thursdays.

I’d spent all week not being able to go to the gym, or rarely leaving the four walls of the house, and was desperate for some sort of physical activity other than walking.

I was able to push it and ask for a lift from my dad to the football, as he plays too, and borrowed the £5 needed to pay for the session.

The thought of a sink wash was also a painful prospect following the game, but I had been fully accepting of it, until my dad explained he'd worked out it would cost roughly 10p per hot shower.

I was 30p under budget on the shop, so decided to take that as an option.

These are examples of my privilege - I'm aware many people would not have the luxury of being able to be supported by others.

My beloved Leeds United were playing on the Saturday - the sixth day - and I actually had to turn down a ticket someone had arranged for me, because it would cost almost five times my weekly budget.

They were on TV and I was gutted I wouldn't be able to watch it, particularly given it was the first game in charge for our new manager, Jesse Marsch.

I concocted a plan, though, that seemed fair within the guidelines I'd set myself.

I could go to a pub and get my dad or a friend to buy me a pint of beer and watch it there.

In the end, my friend offered to host me at his house and provide some lager.

We were due a big catch up and it was so refreshing for my mind being able to interact with someone in a new setting, after five and a bit days of the same routine.

I was planning on staying strict, despite the urge to go out, but eventually ended up at a bar with some other friends, on the premise they would have to pay for my few drinks.

The night went on and I essentially caved, paying for a taxi home.

I managed six days in total, after pushing favours and the boundaries of the challenge to their limits.

This again goes to show how utterly horrendous this situation must be for people experiencing this for real.

Because even for someone as privileged as myself, it was extremely difficult and intense, to the point where I gave in.

Overall, the week has given me a real sense of perspective of the hardships so many people are living through every day.

It has also reaffirmed in my mind how privileged I am - how I am able to count on the support of friends and family for favours.

It’s important to remember that this is the reality for many, and it pushed me to the edge within a few days. Many others will be feeling the same without any support whatsoever.

Now is the time to band together and help each other out – because it doesn’t seem like there’s any extra help coming from the Government any time soon.