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Gillian's Story

When the pandemic struck, Gillian and her family were already in a tough financial position.

Gillian used to work in corporate IT but when she had two children and decided to take a different path as a freelance photographer. She started the new business in 2018 but spent much of her first year setting up the studio and then looking after her terminally ill mother. As such, her outgoings were high and her initial earnings were low.

When the pandemic struck, she and her family were already in a tough financial position. Her husband works in a low-paid job but he does a bit of freelancing organising local triathlons. He didn’t qualify for Government help so Gillian didn’t think they’d have the finances to survive. She started doing small video jobs for local schools and a bit of charity work to try to make ends meet.

In April, she received a letter from the Government to say she was eligible for the self-employed income-support scheme (SEISS) but, because the scheme was based on the 2018-19 tax year, she only received a very small payment. “We turned to the benefits system in the first month,” she explains. “But, by the second month, my SEISS money had come through so we didn’t get any extra help.”

As things became increasingly desperate, Gillian was forced to negotiate a three-month mortgage holiday with her bank. She also looked online to see if there was any other help she was entitled to. This led her to the Turn2us Coronavirus Grant Fund. “When I received the message to say I’d been awarded the grant from the charity, it was a lovely gesture, so overwhelming and unexpected. It helped us pay essential household bills and lifted the despair we were feeling.”

Gillian’s finances are still being squeezed but she is now working more hours and the family is just about getting by. “Things will be very tough if there’s a second wave so I can only be cautiously optimistic about the future.”

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