A cost of living crisis, debilitating illness and a child struggling with their mental health. For most of us, even one of these problems is enough to create an unmanageable situation. For Hanna, all three have been a reality for years.
Hanna first sought help from Citizens Advice Barnet to become a British Citizen. Her health conditions meant that managing the sheer amount of paperwork involved quickly became overwhelming: ‘I was worried about putting the wrong answer in case I was refused’.
She was assisted by immigration adviser Maz who was able to support her through the process. ‘She did an amazing job. She was very supportive and helped me with everything’.
This is a long and drawn out process. Maz’s attention throughout made Hanna feel safe and supported:
“I wouldn’t have been able to do it by myself in the moment and it was very stressful for me. My nationality took five years! This was just a long time and I wouldn’t be able to do it and I’d be worrying that it would be wrong. It gave me the confidence to think about what else is important.”
Struggling and watching your child struggle
However, despite this success, Hanna’s problems continued to develop. Her own ill health, the result of an attack and an ongoing condition, were exacerbated as her daughter began to struggle at school.
“Her medical condition flew under the radar for a very long time and that caused her to start feeling suicidal. I had to stay with her all the time – she wasn’t able to function in outside world”
As her daughter’s health deteriorated, Hanna’s own health declined until she was unable to work. As she struggled not to fall behind on bills, she worried more and more about providing support for her child. In her own words: “she can’t have breaks in her support just because we can’t afford help.”
Once again, Hanna sought help from Citizens Advice Barnet. This time two advisers, Lester and Eva, worked together to help her submit applications for disability benefits for herself and her son. The “mass” of documents that Hanna had to deal with had felt like an insurmountable obstacle. But with Lester and Eva on the case, they were quickly sorted and dealt with.
Now, with her daughter on the road to recovery, Hanna is feeling a bit more optimistic. The money from her Personal Independence Payments will go some way towards covering costs whilst she recovers and cares for her child. Her child’s Disability Living Allowance will allow to get the support she needs to feel better and continue her education.
Despite how much she has been struggling, it is heart-warming for all of us to hear the way she talks about Citizens Advice Barnet.
“I feel confident that I can reach out to you and I will be helped. I would absolutely recommend going to Citizens Advice Barnet. Sometimes people say that it takes a long time on the phone. I had the situation where it took me a while to get through but taking into account how busy you guys are and how overwhelmed you are it is clear that you are trying your best. Just keep ringing and wait and they will help you. I am very grateful.”
They never rushed and never made me feel like it was taking too long, they were helpful, friendly and professional.