Debbie, now 41, was living in her privately rented home in Hampshire with her two children aged 15 and 12. She had been working as a teacher until her job became too stressful and she decided to leave and study for a Master’s degree.
Having found her own funding and completed her Master’s degree in 2015,Debbie began claiming Job Seekers Allowance and Housing Benefit to tide her over whilst she searched for a job and did some volunteering.
In November 2015 Debbie found a full time job, although she was very happy to have found employment, having missed the payroll for that month she found herself working for two months without pay. Now she was employed her benefits were reduced, and with no pay-day Debbie was unsure how she was going to afford everything, she says, “It was an extremely long period and Christmas was coming, it was the time for my MOT, insurance, all that jazz. It was just the wrong time of year to be struggling really."
With her limited income Debbie found it difficult to afford all her outgoings, particularly when her car needed £200 more work than expected. She found herself dipping into her overdraft in order to pay the rent, and had to explain to her children that she could not afford to buy them Christmas presents that year. Being a careful person when it came to money it was a distressing situation, she says, “I only have a £400 overdraft and I was already into it. I’ve never been in arrears or anything like that, or late with my bills, so it was very tense.”
Debbie had previously seen the Turn2us website whilst searching for her Master’s degree funding, so decided to see if she was eligible for any support whilst she was struggling financially. She focused on the Grant Search Tool, after recently becoming employed she knew that she was claiming all the benefits she was entitled to. Finding the Grant Search Tool easy to use, it identified the Elizabeth Finn Fund, a charity who provides grants to British or Irish nationals with a professional background that are experiencing financial hardship.
Once her application to the Elizabeth Finn Fund was accepted, Debbie received a one off grant of £1000, this enabled her to catch up on her finances, she says, “I literally wanted to cry. That was the relief. I wasn’t expecting that much even though I hadn’t put down the figure. Obviously it’s calculated, but to be honest, it was exactly what I needed.” She was even able to buy some Christmas presents for her two children, she says, “I couldn’t believe I’d got it, and literally I hadn’t bought the kids any Christmas presents because I couldn’t afford it. So they understood, and it’s not a very nice feeling to know that Christmas day, your kids aren’t doing what they’d normally do. They got presents on the day and after.”
Currently Debbie has settled into her new job and is earning a steady income. The family is hoping to move out of their privately rented accommodation into a more affordable Housing Association property, and she has already spoken to the Elizabeth Finn Fund and Turn2us for support in their move.
Although Debbie says without the help of Turn2us she would have persevered, she is delighted with the results and would recommend them to anyone, she says, “I think it’s really wonderful and I’m glad they’re there. The help I’ve received, whether it was the telephone calls or emails, it’s all been helpful in a very very stressful time. They’re kind and considerate on the phone. It was very good customer service. So I would just say go for it, because you never know.”