Trisha* came to Mustard Tree in severe financial hardship. She worked in care for most of her adult life but, due to ongoing and intense physical pain, she needed to go on long term sick leave.
Trisha received £411.51 per month but, after money is automatically taken away for an advanced payment, tax credit and rent arrears, she got £308.64 in total to live off for the month. She also owed her bank money for going into her overdraft and she owed council tax and was getting letters from the court about this.
The financial burden weighed heavily on her and she felt that her mental health was being negatively impacted as a direct result. She was in a cycle of debt and was not able to catch up, she often went into her overdraft with her bank and the charges for this were piling up. It caused a great deal of anxiety and stress which she was taking medication to help with.
Trisha didn’t have enough money for food, gas, or electricity so we made a referral to the local food bank and, also, to The Biscuit Fund for a one-off grant towards utilities, she was awarded £40 for this. Mustard Tree completed an income and expenditure form through the council so that she could start paying her council tax arrears off, £15 per month. Trisha admits that she had been very avoidant when it came to dealing with her debts and often tried to ignore the letters that she got about them. Confronting them was a huge step for her.
With the help of Mustard Tree, Trisha applied for ESA. She was very apprehensive and nervous for her telephone assessment and said that she couldn’t have gone through with it without the help of her support worker. She was awarded £584 back-pay, just in time for Christmas, as well as £114.10 weekly. Trisha was also approved for a Discretionary Housing Payment of £13.27 a week and was awarded some backpay for this as well.
Trisha is so relieved now that she has some extra income and she plans to use her back-pay towards her debts to have them paid off sooner. Her mental health is a lot better, she doesn’t feel as anxious as she did and she isn’t avoiding reading her letters or leaving her house anymore. She feels a lot happier and is ready to rebuild her life.