▼ Found 7 entries
2 Jun 2023

Autumn H

How does the benefit system handle changes of circumstance?

I had a period of great instability - related due to domestic violence, a breakdown and three kids and two dogs in tow.

I lived in ten places in three years. Every house move meant costs, connection of services, redirection of mail, deposits, furniture, carpets.

And yet I was treated like the problem. Labelled as a person with a chaotic lifestyle. Denied repeated help. Delays in financial support, benefits and so forth.

At one point I was so low I considered taking all our lives.

All I needed was one named individual to help, to talk to, to advocate for me.

I’m glad to say I’m now in a better place, but my kids all live with trauma from these days and I feel so guilty for that.

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27 May 2023

Bessie J

What are your experiences of housing support and dealing with changes to housing costs?

There is a huge lack of affordable houses to rent in this area.

Private rents have risen by 50% since lockdowns.

Council rules say I cannot be offered a home from them as adequately housed and not homeless... although I'm in poverty paying the extra rent over the benefit limit.

The bidding system for homes is online with many housing associations all connected to this system.

There are around 100 people applying for each home.

It is a cut throat, dog eat dog system. Abrupt staff talking down at me as if I am stupid... just a bit hard of hearing. There was a lack of compassion from a housing officer as my pet dog was being put down to ill health later that day and she called to check had we "got rid of dog yet". Pressure to make quick decisions in a poor frame of mind.

The same housing advisor gave out wrong information on benefit/ UC rules too for changing circumstances. Which swayed me to decide to leave an offer of a flat that day. Later found out from citizens advice much info from housing officers is wrong.

I'm 52 left a violent relationship with my children 10 years ago and still not worthy of a warm, permanent affordable home.

Nobody told me that 10 years ago. If I knew, I would probably have stayed.

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3 May 2023

Faith N

What changes are needed to support more people who want to get into and progress in work?

The social security offices need to help those who are returning to work after a long time of being out of it. There isn’t enough of a ‘bridging the gap’ aid or support. I my situation I’m coming from trauma and domestic violence so getting back into work is going to be difficult but so far there’s been no help in that mental health department. I also used to be a professional so finding ‘just any job’ isn’t appropriate and again more assistance is needed to bridge this gap and gently ease the person back into the world of work.

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16 Apr 2023

Bessie J

What is your experience of speaking to the DWP?

I had a job, but had to move away from my home town with my daughter due to domestic violence.

After 6 weeks the wages dried up and I was forced to claim benefits.

I had no idea where the job centre was based in an area I knew nothing about. The village was rural and the council office only opened part time. I had no house phone and no credit on my mobile.

I was told by a benefit advisor to walk 6 miles to the nearest town to the job centre, I didn't know which direction.

I went home and sobbed out of despair. I left a violent situation and nobody cared if we went hungry.

Word must have got out as 3 ladies from Gingerbread appeared at our door the next morning offering a food parcel and support with benefit claiming. They took me through application forms step by step. It took 12 weeks to sort out all benefit entitlement. I am grateful for this charity.

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5 Jan 2023

Pammy W

🎊 What are your hopes and fears for 2023?

My hopes are that I can help as many people as I can with what I can contribute to the community by collecting surplus food and items. My fears are my ex-partner is trying to take my daughter from me and the abuse I still face off him. My fears are if I am not strong enough to face this.

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9 Dec 2022

Bessie J

Reading social media... An old friend from my hometown has passed away from cancer at 52.

I now have four old friends who have passed away in their late 40s and early 50s from cancer.

I won't be able to attend the funeral, as with other times, as I fled my hometown from domestic violence.

The impact of domestic violence never leaves.

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2 Dec 2022

Bessie J

🎄How will the cost of living affect your Christmas?

I never enjoy Christmas.

I will be alone with my 16 year old autistic daughter.

Family are not supportive and it has become a competition of who got what gift and OTT dinner tables.

Previously, I always found myself making excuses to leave early as they brag about holidays and types of cars. I am unable to return the favour of inviting them round due to being unable to afford to feed them all.

It wouldn't be good enough anyway.

I don't have a cabinet of drink and platters of snacks to dish up.

Nobody has been in contact to ask if we are OK.

I don't mind a quiet Xmas. But would be lovely to have some company.

So just like last year, it will be just the two of us. I'm actually financially worse off than last year.

I keep reminding myself, it's just one day. That all the social media posts of matching pyjamas is them buying into what companies sell.

It's a mix of relief my daughter is past Santa and understands I cannot give her much. She says it doesn't matter, but I feel guilty. I've been feeling guilty for 10 years since I left my ex and had to struggle financially. Every time she was bullied at school. Every time she missed out on treats. Every time someone from school went on holiday. When we had no heating,

It was supposed to get better.

We are safe and there is no violence in our home. I didn't plan for the discrimination and ignorance of others who blame me for leaving a "good" lifestyle. Not one family member has offered support to let me go to work. No lifts to the supermarket out of town in their top of range car. No asking how we are feeling and coping in this cost of living crisis. Did I mention my family are Tories?

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