It's Debt Awareness Week and we know that many people are finding it harder than ever to make ends meet at the moment. If you're worried about spiralling debts or managing your finances, please take #thefirststep by speaking to one of our Income Officers who provide practical, friendly & non-judgemental support. Here are just a few short, anonymous case studies of people they've recently helped:
"At the start of the pandemic we contacted a customer who had not paid his rent. He told me that he had lost his job. He had always worked full time and paid his rent and bills on time. Universal Credit (UC) would only support him as a single person as his wife has no rights to claim UK benefits, so the two of them were living on a very low income. We went through his bills with him and reduced his rent payments as low as possible. He called me for a few months running as they had run out of food with a week or so to go before his next UC payment, so we provided food bank vouchers to get him through the last few days of the month then we used our own Customer Support Fund to help him with supermarket vouchers. He was happy to have the support from someone who was on his side, without having to start from the beginning of the story each time."
"A customer and her partner both worked at the same place, so when redundancies were announced a few months into the pandemic, it hit their family very hard. We went through all the help that was available to them and put their mind at rest that they weren’t going to get into debt. Within a few days we had helped them claim the benefits they were entitled to, plus a claim for discretionary housing payments to cover their underoccupancy charge, Council Tax Support and the Local Authority’s Welfare Support Fund. They got through the first month without building up any debts which was a challenge, and are managing fine at the moment and we keep in regular contact with them just to check they are ok, but we still have lots of other options available to support them if it becomes needed."
"Sometimes it can just be very temporary help to support someone get back on their feet. We recently helped a customer who had just started a new job and wasn't able to afford to pay her first few weeks' nursery fees until her first salary came in and was also struggling to pay the rent. We helped by signposting her to money advice services and gave her a couple of supermarket pre-paid cards to allow her to buy food those first few weeks which really helped her out."