My troubles started in 2015, when I was involved in a very serious car accident. Not only did I nearly lose my life going through green lights and being hit by a car from the side, but my car also got written off. As if that wasn’t enough stress, I wasn’t remotely prepared for what I was about to face over the next three years.
I was someone on long term ESA (Employment & Support Allowance) and PIP (Personal Independence Payments). The changes to the UK’s social security system resulted in my ESA and PIP suddenly coming to a halt at the same time. Yet my medical conditions had not changed. My only option was to go on Job Seekers Allowance, even though my hospital appointments were still pending and ongoing.
I ended up in a Woman’s Hostel. Having stayed there for 8 months I finally managed to find suitable accommodation near to the Q.E. Hospital.
Since the stoppage of my sickness benefits, I had been unable to find any avenue to re-instate my previous support levels. Even though I appealed the decisions on the ESA and PIP, this achieved nothing. Arrears were building up with electricity, gas, water, phone, TV license.
“My stress was increasing and I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown.”
I had been to the Citizens Advice Bureau, but it didn’t solve anything – it just wasn’t the right kind of help for my needs. It felt like it wasn’t just the car which had been in a crash – my whole life seemed to be crashed. I didn’t know how to even begin to start putting things right. It wasn’t until I was referred to Riverside Money Advice (RMA) by my support worker that things really began to turn around.
The RMA adviser requested me to bring in all my paperwork, such as my utility bills and bank statements. She arranged to negotiate with all my creditors and put in place affordable installments. When dealing with my Council Tax bill, it was miraculously discovered that I had overpaid them for the previous financial year. This yielded a £240 rebate which was an immediate help.
My advisers at RMA painstakingly took the time and effort to help me – and were patient through my hearing difficulties and sometimes confusion in timelines. All my efforts in going to visit the CAB felt pointless, time consuming, and stressful. Whereas here at Riverside I felt like I was in good hands.
My old fridge also stopped working – adding to my daily stress and struggle. RMA in partnership with G E Gee Trust, provided me with a brand new fridge. That simple intervention greatly helped me.
My biggest debt was with NPower who supplied both my gas and electricity. My advisor from RMA made an application to their Trust Fund to see if I qualified for help. As long as I kept up my monthly instalment payments, they said they would consider me. RMA helped me put the right payment structure in place. A few months later I received the good news that the Trust Fund was going to remove the debt from my account.
“Riverside Money Advice has lifted a whole weight off me and has done me a whole world of good.”
I can now say I’m out of debt and feel more in control of my finances since visiting this remarkable church organisation and the wonderful people who run this place. Now I budget well, stay on top of my bills, am more savvy as to what I am being charged, and have begun to put money aside for future needs.
I feel truly blessed to have been directed here and feel that God’s work has been done! 🙂 Their help has strengthened me in my faith and relationship with my creator even further. At last I feel that the damage from the physical and money-related crash is finally being dealt with and life is back on the road.