Having to choose

Requests for our help keep coming in as the colder weather is upon us. Families struggling to choose, do they stay warm or have food to eat? It is that tough a decision. We have had to tighten our own belt as we find ourselves having to decide is this need desperate or is it something that could wait? Previously we were never faced with that situation as requests for our help were not as frequent as they are just now. As more and more agencies are having their funding cut, they are coming to us to see if we can help out. Sometimes we can, but often we can’t, so asking us does not guarantee a yes sadly.

Just this week we have had to turn down requests for help to purchase a new bed, or to replace a mattress, because our focus is on food and fuel, and getting people off the streets. Yesterday we helped a man with a small amount for food and energy because his mental health is so bad that even engaging with agencies that could help him was proving challenging. His focus was getting through that day, not being able to see any term longer than that. Hopefully, the help we offered out to him has reassured him that there are people out there prepared to help, not every answer is going to be a no. We received news later that day from the agent that approached us for help to say ”  He is very grateful and can’t believe how helpful you have been.  This will make a huge difference to him and hopefully, this good news will allow us to get things more settled for him.”

Another man, only in his late twenties has been living out on the streets without a roof over his head for some months. He was fortunate enough to be moved to a hostel, then heard the news that there was a chance of permanent accommodation for him. The barrier to him being able to move in though was that he needed enough money to cover the first week’s rent, which was the deposit. We helped him with what he needed to top it up, and today he gets the keys. We asked would he be supported once he was in the accommodation as it struck us that being out on the streets or in a hostel you are surrounded by people, but once you are in your own place and you shut that front door, you are alone. They reported back that he would be fully supported in applying for grants for furniture, etc, which usually is supplied by second-hand stores, and they will stay in regular contact with him to ensure he maintains his tenancy.

We have helped so many people this week with money for food and to top up their energy meters, for a variety of reasons. One young mum of an 8 week old, is still waiting for her maternity grant to be approved and for the child benefit to be put in place because once that happens, then the rest of her Universal Credit payments are altered for the better and she will hopefully be able to survive. When our agents contacted us, she was without money for food, energy or nappies for the baby. Another couple were impacted when a PIP renewal failed, despite the fact that nothing had changed health-wise, and it was awarded before. The PIP payments stopping stopped the ability by the partner to claim carers allowance, which impacted their housing benefit and council tax benefit. Just one benefit element changing can seriously impact other benefits quite negatively.

As always, we are extremely grateful for all the help we receive from members of the public who choose to support the work we do. Please remember we have no overheads, all of us are volunteers, so no one gets paid, and we have no office costs as we all work from our own homes. Even writing this blog update is done by a volunteer at home. If you’d like to become a regular donor or simply like to make a one-off donation, the link to do that is here.