Jeremy’s story is one with which we are familiar: He was doing well and a bit of bad luck — being in the wrong place at the wrong time — pushed him into poverty. He was assaulted on the street in a random and violent attack that has changed his life drastically. He is figuring out his new normal and we’re here to help him navigate the available benefits.
Things were going well for Jeremy. He had a good job and was earning well and living comfortably.
Then, last February, he was physically assaulted on the street and everything changed. The time it has taken to operate and heal the injuries sustained has meant that he has been unable to work. Due to the nature of his work, his employer was able to drop him without support.
Lacking income, he has spent some time navigating and instating the available benefits. Despite support, his bills, and his rent, in particular, are higher than the amount he is awarded. He’s been reliant on borrowing money from family to mitigate the difference.
“I used to earn ￡5000 a month and now I’m living off what the council is giving me. I can’t make rent, I’m just struggling.”
The stress of the loss of income and the reality of his new situation has compounded his health problems; after the attack, he began to suffer from weekly seizures.
He was given a foodbank voucher, for example, but on his first trip he became anxious while waiting in the queue. He had to leave only to have a seizure on the street. He didn’t get any groceries that day.
In addition to time spent in and out of doctors’ surgeries, this past year has been punctuated by help from various agencies. In particular, the Victims of Crime Unit, which connected him to BOOST and, later, to Citizens Advice Barnet. Each has played a part, but none so far have been able to change the reality of his circumstances: he cannot cover all his expenses.
This month, Citizens Advice Barnet helped to get Jeremy Council Tax Support and to apply the single person discount to his Universal Credit. This will help him make rent, but only this month.
“I’m taking everything day by day, but I feel like I’m going around in circles. I want to work, but I can’t. I just need help really.”
If not only because Jeremy continues to push forward, there is hope for better. Next month, for example, he will be reassessed by the doctor, which can open opportunities for improvement on the rates of his various benefits. He should be properly supported during his recovery and Citizens Advice Barnet is committed to helping him seek the betterment of his situation.
I’m taking everything day by day, but I feel like I’m going around in circles. I want to work, but I can’t. I just need help really.