I’ve got my head above water now

‘I was working throughout the pandemic, but when the pandemic lifted I went down in a spiral and got into deep depression. It was so bad I couldn’t go to work, and I also had really bad back pain. I got behind on my rent and was sent a letter about rent arrears and then I received an eviction order. It made my situation so much worse. I think I was close to having a breakdown and I had suicidal thoughts. I was on universal credit so I only had a low income and I wasn’t getting any help.

Things really picked up when I went to the Law Centre. I got so much help with my situation. I got a grant to help with my rent arrears and outstanding debts. Shanice helped me get a reduction on my council tax and helped me fill out the PIP form too. It’s not easy but I got through it with her support. There was also help with my heating bills and shopping for my food.

Eunice picked up on the debt side of things and helped me deal with my outstanding debts. She got in contact with my credit card company to put a freezing motion in place. Eventually we reached an agreement with them and they agreed to write off the debt.

When I heard they’d written off the debt, it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I had literally been at rock bottom but this makes life a lot easier. I’ve also been receiving therapy which has helped me too.

Everything’s so expensive now but I’m keeping my head above water. I’ve got ways and means not to get myself back in that situation again. I’m coping. I still have good days and bad days but I have more good days now.

I don’t do heavy duty shopping any more – there just isn’t the money. I’m just about managing, but we haven’t seen the really hard end of it because it’s getting warmer. We’ll have to see what it’s like in the winter – it feels like there’s worse to come. I have shopping in the freezer; my cupboard is a little bit empty though. At the moment I keep my gas and electricity constantly topped up so I know I’m not going to panic that I won’t have any or go into debt again. I’m trying to keep myself warm and only use what I really need. I can’t stand the cold. I’m making sure the rent is up to date so I don’t get into arrears again. That’s what started everything off and then made my physical and emotional health so bad – it felt like there was no end.

I’m very very pleased and so grateful for the help I received. If it was down to me alone I never would have known about the grants and other help on offer. Without it I probably wouldn’t be here today. I’m really grateful. I’ve mentioned the Law Centre to friends who are going through difficulties and told them to get in touch.

It’s put me in a much more positive place. I’m making sure I manage my payments better, check my spending and manage my income. I’m still not fit for work at the moment but I’m in a good place right now. If it wasn’t for the Law Centre I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in today.

Jasmine* was unable to work due to ill health. As a result she built up rent arrears and a number of other debts, including from her credit card. Our crisis navigator helped her successfully apply for personal independence payment (PIP), council tax support and the single person discount. Our money adviser also worked with her to help her manage her debts and was able to negotiate with her credit card company so that they will no longer pursue the outstanding balance.

*not her real name