We first met Alex when he came to us for a box of food at the Resource Centre in April 2018. Alex has Asperger's Syndrome and struggles to communicate. He has very low self-esteem and often refers to himself as 'simple'.
Alex is in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) and a recent change in the date had really messed things up for him. We also discovered that he was paying a lot of his £860 monthly UC income in rent to a private landlord (£700). An appointment was made with a specialist adviser. During the next few meetings with Alex, it became apparent that shared housing in a house of multiple occupancy would not be suitable for him due to his Asperger's. We therefore helped him re-activate his Home-Link application. He was not high priority, therefore we contacted the Housing Options (HO) team (who manage Home-Link) to try to improve his banding and increase his chances of finding a more affordable home.
Whilst waiting to hear back from HO, we used our resources and applied for help where we could to alleviate some of the symptoms of poverty. Along with food boxes we applied for a Discretionary Housing Payment from the council towards his rent and were pleased to receive a contribution of £100 p/m. We also received a 'gift' of £100 for help with electric from Acts 435.
At the end of June we heard that HO would carry out a review of his case. After a bit more 'toing and froing' we finally got word at the end of July that he could view a property in nearby Bury St Edmunds. We took him over to visit the house at the beginning of August; his rent will cost £425 p/m saving him a massive £273 p/m and this includes heating and water. On 20th August, Alex collected his keys for his new home.
It's been quite a journey for Alex which resulted in 14 visits to our Resource Centre, 11 food boxes, a visit to Bury St Edmunds (plus visits to his former landlord in Haverhill) and many phone calls. Happily, after almost 4 months he is in a much better position; with affordable rent he should not require any more foodbank boxes, and hopefully, has a good chance of keeping himself out of poverty!
Alex said of the support he's received from REACH:
"If it wasn't for REACH and the food bank I don't know what I would have done as I couldn't afford to get any food. Ann has helped me so much and I am very thankful for all her help in getting me my new flat"