Twenty-four-year-old Donna has no dependants and still lives at home with her mother, sisters and brothers, but she says without the support of her partner she, too, would be in dire straits. "He really helps me out," she says.
She took a Business and Technology Education Council national diploma in social care after leaving school and then went to work in a West End shop and as a telephone operator on rail enquiries before being laid off. Helped by her redundancy payment, she went back to college to take an access course in legal studies and is looking forward to a place at university to read law.
"It's only because I've got a good partner and a good family that I can manage it," she says.
She didn't apply for a hardship payment, thinking her circumstances were not drastic enough to qualify: "They only have a certain amount of money and I didn't want to go through all the rigmarole." She survives on pound;35 a week - mostly spent on a travel pass - and the charity of her family.
"A lot of people have dropped out of the course who are parents even though the course is tied in around school hours. But you end up having to buy books because they suggest a book to you and there's only one copy in the library and one book between 30 people isn't enough."
"I feel lucky compared to people who have dropped out or can't even contemplate doing a course because of their families."