Margot* was struggling with council tax arrears and covering her bills after becoming injured and not being able to work. She came to Money A+E for support. This is her story.
"I've been struggling with an ongoing injury for the last couple of years and I can't work. That’s how badly I’m struggling. Before, I used to be a lady that goes to work. I had been working since I left school and I didn't need any financial support. But I found myself in this situation and I needed to get advice to keep a roof over my head. That’s why Newham Council referred me to Money A+E.
I was feeling very stressed and worried. All I’ve ever known was getting up and going to work. So it was almost like going into the world of the unknown - dealing with the benefits systems was all new to me.
Money A+E Money Coach was just the greatest. She made this so much less stressful for me. She answered all my questions and supported me with things I didn’t know. She also helped me to get the right contact numbers and to ring the right people so I could sort my problems out. She helped me a lot. I’m grateful.
Thankfully I was able to connect with my Money Coach to take those anxieties away. She helped me to work things out instead of being lost in all this mess.
I suffer from bad chronic pain. My pain levels were getting even more excruciating and hard to manage. That was because of the stress in my mind and the constant worry. I don’t sleep very well because I’m in a lot of pain anyway but then not sleeping because of the pain and because I was worried that I will get thrown off my house, was an extra load on top of my mind that just put me into a bad place.
Thankfully I was able to connect with my Money Coach to take those anxieties away. She helped me to work things out instead of being lost in all this mess. The things that I was mainly dealing with in the beginning were council tax arrears, and not knowing which benefits I was entitled to.
At that time, I didn’t know much about the benefits system and how it could help me. My Money Coach was able to break down and explain me what I would be entitled to, the things I could apply for, places I could go to for further help, and more. She put things together in an understandable way.
That was something I needed. Most definitely that makes Money A+E different from other services.
My Money Coach was also doing her part in the background. When I had to ring the Council, she would say to me: send me an email to let me know the update and if you need any further help, just let me know. That was reassuring and helpful for me.
A lot of people I’ve spoken to along the way would rush me off the phone. They didn't seem helpful. But my Money Coach was very patient. When I didn’t understand she was willing to explain it further. That was something I needed. Most definitely that makes Money A+E different from other services.
Now I’m getting Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment and Employment Support Allowance. I’m doing the best that I can with it.
I’m hoping that I can get back to some form of normality. I know that my life will never be like before. Anyway, I would like to get to a better place where I’m back at work. I’ve been a worker from a very young age. It used to be a part of my social life - seeing people at work, integrating with them. I had a lot of work colleagues. So, I look forward to being active again and being able to meet people and be social again.
As hard as it is, the best solution is to seek advice and help. There are associations and individuals like Money Coaches willing to help others. Don’t shy away from it. Try not to bury your head in the sand. I’m guilty of that and I’m sure many people are. Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse. You should take the help that others are offering you.
There are genuine people that want to help.
I’ve always been such an independent, self-sufficient person. Accepting help from others has been a real test for me. I’ve always tried not to bother anyone. Falling into this situation, I’ve become reliant on family which has been a real challenge for me. But I’m learning through it.
We’re not made of stone. We’re not here to just fight through life on our own. If you need help and people are willing to help you – take it. It can make life a lot easier for you. There are genuine people that want to help.
I would definitely recommend Money A+E. From day one I felt really supported. You put my mind at rest."
Service funded by the British Gas Energy Trust
Location: Newham, London
Occupation: Social Housing Officer
Advice included support with:
Council Tax arrears
Universal Credit application
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) application
*Name has been changed.
Figures are correct at time of writing and may be approximate.
All images used are stock photos.