Marjory's Story

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Marjory, a pensioner, was widowed just before Christmas 2019. She is bright, capable and fiercely independent, but faced with bereavement, failing health and financial hardship (she could no longer afford the rent on her home on one income), she was feeling overwhelmed. Her son and daughter-in-law help her with day-to-day things as much as they can, but she doesn’t like to burden them.

So she contacted REACH. We helped Marjory complete an application for sheltered social housing – it needed to be a bungalow because of her mobility issues and accept pets so she could take her beloved cat with her. We also helped her apply for pension credit, an increase in pension and reduction in council tax now she was living alone.

We suggested that Marjory apply for Attendance Allowance – a benefit that many older people can apply for to help them stay independent – and she said she would send for the forms.

The local housing team (HomeLink) found a suitable bungalow for Marjory and she moved in the following spring at the start of the pandemic. She had applied for the Attendance Allowance forms but they had been delayed as by now, the country was in lockdown. Marjory had to shield due to her health issues – her son and daughter-in-law helped her with shopping, but for many months she was confined to her home, unable to meet with friends.

Last September, when she no longer needed to shield, Marjory was keen to go out again. However, she had become much more frail. She told our outreach advisor Ann, “I’m just really scared of going out now. I’m afraid I’ll fall and won’t be able to get up. I don’t want to keep asking my son to help me, but if I could get a rollator, I could go out shopping, and as it’s got a seat I can have a little rest when I need to, and I can feel independent again.” It was only a matter of £100 or so, but Marjory simply couldn’t afford it. However, thanks to some kind and generous donors we were able to help. Marjory was overjoyed to get her rollator - she said, “This is so much appreciated, thank you. I will now be able to get out into town and do my own shopping without worrying that I might fall.”

Given that Marjory was still clearly struggling to make ends meet, Ann asked how the Attendance Allowance application was going. Marjory confessed that she had received the form, but it was dauntingly complicated, and she didn’t think she would qualify, so she had put it to one side. Ann said, “How about you and I and your daughter in law sit down and complete it together?” Marjory agreed. Between them, they finished it and sent it off.

And several weeks later, a delighted Marjory left us an uncharacteristically emotional voicemail. The application had been successful! Ann says, “She was quite tearful and very grateful. She said, ‘£60 more a week makes all the difference. It means that now I can put my heating on and not worry about it. You know, I’m independent – I don’t like people having to do things for me. But I’m starting to realise now that I do need the help.’ And I know, having been widowed myself, how difficult it must have been for her, having to go through the house move and the struggles on her own and just worrying all the time but not wanting to be a burden to her children. She didn’t want to risk losing her independence and her beloved cat.

“Now, with the various benefits we’ve helped her to secure, Marjory feels she will be able to manage just fine. It was just so good to be able to help her - and we’ll always be here for her and anyone else who might just need a little extra support in order to maintain their dignity and independence.”


*Client name and some details changed to protect identity