‘I was living in a women’s refuge because I’d had to flee domestic violence. The council referred me to the Law Centre for help with my debts but to be honest I wasn’t that interested. I had so much else going on at the time so I didn’t want to have to confront my debts as well.
‘I had an initial phone call with a money adviser called Asia and she went through all the different scenarios depending on how the situation with my housing turned out; the council had housed me in a b & b by this point but I still didn’t know what would happen long-term. She sent me a spreadsheet with all these options, but I just put it all to the back of my head.
‘One thing Asia mentioned is that they could help me with money I was entitled to but have never claimed. I have a son who has autism and I knew I was entitled to money to help support him but because of having to deal with the domestic violence, I’d never done anything about it.
‘Asia called me a while later to ask how I was getting on. I’d still done nothing about sorting out my debts but I’d been rehoused and the person responsible for the domestic violence had been put in prison, so I felt a bit more ready to deal with things. Asia arranged a phone call for me to talk to her colleague about applying for Disability Living Allowance for my son.
‘Shanice was so patient with me. I actually fobbed her off a few times when she called because I didn’t have the right paperwork with me. In the end she said she would go through the DLA form with me on the phone and we could complete it together. I’m so grateful to her for that. It’s quite a long form but doing it together was so good because it made me reflect on my son and his needs and provide all the information they needed.
‘I got a letter saying I’d been awarded the full amount. That was the start of me getting back in control of my finances. I opened up the spreadsheet I’d been sent and began to think about how I could reduce my debts. One of the things on the spreadsheet was a calculation for working out how much I should work to be better off. I’m a nurse but I’m also a single mum to four children and I’ve always found it hard to find the balance between work and childcare. I’ve actually reduced the number of hours I work as a result – the extra time with my children has been so important – and I’ve been able to sort out some other things as well.
‘I made a conscious decision that I was going to use the DLA money wisely so I got my son a tutor. He’s still behind but he’s settled into school and he’s doing so well. I’m so proud of him. All my children are doing well. I’m so happy that money has been used and has really helped.
‘I’ve managed to reduce loads of my debt. I’m still in payment plans but I’m pretty much done. I just need to carry on the way I’ve been doing. I’m not using credit any more – that’s one of the things I’ve changed. Even to do up my new house I haven’t used credit. I’ve just said if I haven’t got it, I’m just going to wait till I get paid.
‘I’ve really benefitted from the Law Centre. I’m so happy with everything. It’s been a year now and I’m so grateful for Shanice’s determination with me. The DLA money has helped so much and the whole experience helped me confront my debt situation and sort everything out. I’m very grateful.
Denise was living in emergency accommodation following domestic violence and was referred to us for help with her debts. We gave her debt advice and referred her to our crisis navigator who helped her successfully apply for Disability Living Allowance for her son. Following the advice and support she received she is now in a much better position financially and she is able to build a new life with her children.