Sian hit her lowest point at the end of 2017.
Recovering from a stroke and unable to work, Sian and her husband Harold were struggling to survive on his state pension. Sian had worked all her life, never claimed benefits and always believed you had to earn your way through life.
Sian and Harold made an appointment at their local job centre, where they were encouraged to make a joint claim for Universal Credit.
“It was all new to us,” Sian said.
“We are proud people – we are not ones to beg and ask for help. We were now struggling through no fault of our own.
“A few weeks later we received a letter from the DWP saying our claim had been turned down because my husband receives a state pension – he was supposed to look after me, pay our rent & bills and do the shopping on less than £200-a-week.
“I used what little savings I had to try and keep us going – but once you took out the rent and bills, we were living on next to nothing. Some weeks we had just £10 to buy food. We have faced tough times in the past, but I was so angry and frustrated about being let down by the Government.”
At her wits end, Sian was told to make another Universal Credit claim - assured by the job centre that she would get some money by the end of the month.
Several weeks passed – but still no payment. Sian and Harold’s financial pressures began to mount up – including rent arrears.
Sian struggles to hold back the tears.
She added: “I phoned the job centre and told them I felt like jumping off a bridge – there was a total lack of understanding and empathy from the people working there.
“I told my husband to leave me – at least he would be ok because he is a pensioner. There was never a chance of that – Harold has stuck by me through thick and thin.
“We were desperate. I was trying to get better after my stroke and get my head around Universal Credit. Money was so tight – I had to go days without my medication because I couldn’t afford my prescription.
“I never asked to have stroke. You are told not to bury your head in the sand and ask for help – I asked and got not support whatsoever.”
Sian was angry – angry that the system she had paid into all her life had let her down when she needed it the most.
Sian found a glimmer of hope from an unlikely source – Weaver Vale Housing Trust’s Your Home Magazine.
Sian said: “I came across an article about the Money Matters Team and the support they offer. We had been let down by everyone else but I thought ‘what the hell?. It took me a good two hours to write that email – I just needed to get all that frustration and anger off my chest. The next morning, Carrie-Anne from the team got in touch.
“She said Money Matters would do everything they could to help.”
Sian was put in touch with Kelly Worthington, a Money Advisor who specialises in helping our customers improve their income.
“For the first time, someone treated me like an actual human being. Kelly was brilliant – she listened and put me at ease
“Kelly went through everything - she took me through things step-by-step. She helped me make a claim for Contribution Based ESA, housing benefit and PIP. She was angry with the job centre for giving me the wrong advice.”
Kelly also helped Sian with the costs towards her prescriptions.
“Instead of having to scrape by from week-to-week, we now have enough money to live on thanks to Kelly. We can have a proper meal and live comfortably.
“Kelly has been our godsend and saviour. She was by my side during this entire process – I can’t praise her enough. I never felt undermined with Kelly – she is excellent at her job.”
If you are struggling financial and need support, get in touch with our Money Matters Team on 01606 813341/813470 or email email@example.com