Our home visitor recently supported a couple in their 80’s, ‘Beryl’ and her husband ‘John’, who are on a very low income and have no family living close by. John is disabled and has dementia and Beryl is his main carer, which leaves her feeling very isolated and worried. Our home visitor helped them claim the disability benefit that John is entitled to and carried out a benefit check to boost their income with additional means tested benefits.
Beryl said, “I can’t thank you enough. I didn’t know we could claim these benefits and wouldn’t have been able to fill in the difficult forms without your help. Now we can afford to pay someone to sit with John if I need to go out and we can afford the odd taxi and little treat. It has made such a difference.”
Last year the support of our Advice at Home service supported 66 clients, just like Beryl and John, with life changing advice.
Last year our home visiting service supported ‘Alice’ with advice at home. Alice is terminally ill and unable to work, and is mum to two teenagers. Recently separated from her husband, Alice was facing huge financial difficulties and pressure from creditors, and the stress of her situation was having a very negative impact on her already fragile health. Our home visitor helped Alice to receive the benefits to which she was entitled, and also had £11,000 of debt written off by creditors. Over a number of months, our home visitor helped Alice and her two children to feel supported, have more money coming in, less debt and a better quality of life during this difficult time.
Last year the support of our Advice at Home service achieved financial gains of £114,493 for people who are housebound.
‘Karen’ lives in social housing and is a single mum with four teenage children. Her partner has been in prison for two years, due for release in 2018. Karen had been ‘just about’ managing her day to day finances but was unable to clear over £500 of water bill arrears from a previous property. Karen was referred to our caseworker by a housing officer at Radian as the recently introduced benefits cap has reduced her income by £108 per week. Karen was not able to pay her bills, could not afford food and her children were cold at night. We arranged for four weeks of foodbank vouchers to help Karen over the crisis period, and approached a local charity which provided £300 of Tesco vouchers for Karen to buy warm duvets and blankets for her children.
Our Caseworker has helped Karen to submit an application to the Thames Water Trust Fund to help with the arrears she owes, and has also submitted an application to Watersure to help Karen manage her bills in the future. This case is ongoing as an application for Discretionary Housing Payment to cover Karen’s rent shortfall until February is due to be submitted.”
Karen’s story is not unusual. Our generalist advisers supported clients with 2900 debt, finance and benefits related issues last year.
We recently helped ‘Steve’, who has been disabled since birth and relies on his mobility vehicle to get to work, to appeal when he was turned down for PIP and lost his transport. With our advice Steve successfully appealed and was awarded back dated payments and funding for another mobility vehicle. Steve now recommends the support offered by Citizens Advice to everyone.
We assisted 210 people with the completion of PIP applications last year and we also help with challenging unfair decisions, like the one Steve faced.
60 year old ‘Simon’ was made redundant and was worried about his debts. Without computer skills he couldn’t apply for JSA online and he felt his problems were overwhelming to the point where he contemplated suicide. Simon started drinking heavily and was arrested and charged with drink driving.
The police recognised that Simon was vulnerable and after psychiatric assessment he was well supported by the Maidenhead Mental Health crisis team, who also suggested that he came to Citizens Advice to try and sort out his other problems.
We advised Simon to take a member of the Crisis team to the Job Centre and they also prepared a report for his court hearing. Simon quickly received the benefits he was entitled to and was also given the minimum ban and a low fine following his drink driving case as the judge understood his situation.
We helped Simon to reduce his debts, including water rates and council tax by negotiating with creditors on his behalf. Our intervention has improved Simon’s financial situation and his mental health.
Citizens Advice Maidenhead & Windsor worked with other agencies – in this case mental health services, the Job Centre, RBWM and utility companies – to improve Simon’s life. Our advisers support over 4000 people like Simon every year.