It’s great that in the UK we have a benefits system to help families if they hit a financial crisis. However, it can take a long time for money to come through and meantime that family has a real struggle to get by.
Thanks to your support, REACH is able to bridge that gap, carrying the family through deep water until they get their feet on firm ground again – as we did with Mandy and her baby.
It should have been one of the happiest times of Mandy’s life. She and her husband had not long moved to Haverhill, and she had just had her first baby, a little girl.
Then quite suddenly, her husband left.
Now on her own, Mandy struggled to make ends meet. As full-time carer to her daughter, she wasn’t able to work. She did all the right things - she got in touch with social services and applied for Universal Credit. However, it was going to take time for the money to come through. Meanwhile, Mandy tried to stretch out what little money she had, but it had got to the point where she was having to make really difficult choices.
She was reduced to eating whatever baby food was left after feeding her daughter. Even so, there wasn’t enough money left to heat her home properly and keep her and her baby warm. “I thought I was doing something wrong because I needed help with food and stuff,” Mandy later told us. “I didn’t want people to feel like I was playing the system, but I was absolutely in need of help.”
Mandy’s social worker referred her to us. That same afternoon, our adviser Jo was able to take a foodbox out to Mandy and top up her gas and electricity meter. Mandy admits to shedding some tears of sheer relief and gratitude – she says, “Everyone was so lovely to me, so helpful. It made all the difference.”
Now Mandy’s Universal Credit has come through, and she no longer has to choose between heating and eating. She can look forward to her first Christmas with her little daughter.