With the UK experiencing its biggest increase in the cost of living and the highest annual rate of inflation since before Caring For Life began, it is no surprise that the need of those we support is greater than ever. Many are facing insurmountable debt, and many are in real financial hardship and struggling to make ends meet. All of us have seen the increase in the basic day-to-day items from energy to food to other necessities. Imagine then, the added hardship and pressure that being on low, incorrect income brings.
Often when we start supporting someone through our Benefits and Tenancies Team we spend time trying to get to the bottom of what is actually going on before we are able to advise and support. For one lady, we quickly discovered the depths of poverty and the significant financial hardship which she was experiencing. She was on incorrect benefits and in turn, was left with a mere £111 per month (after essential bills) to cover everything. Out of this small amount, she had an array of debts to cover. Including over £5000 in debt, over £600 in rent arrears, further money owed to loan sharks, cash converters and utility arrears, and all of this before considering ongoing daily expenses such as food.
This lady had worked for over 40 years until an accident meant that she was unable to continue due to her poor physical health. Suzi was referred to Caring For Life for benefits support. We quickly got to work applying for the correct benefits to increase her income and providing food parcels (thanks to our wonderful supporters!) to ensure that she ate.
It is difficult to really express the impact that this support makes in folks' lives. On a practical level, with the right benefits now in place, Suzi has finally managed to reduce all her debts, is able to purchase essentials such as food and will be able to heat her home through the winter. The season of walking with folks through the benefits process, supporting, encouraging, “speaking up” on their behalf and “defending the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31 v 8-9) creates opportunities to share the love of our precious Saviour. Often we are asked, why we do the things we do, especially in the midst of benefits paperwork and it is a joy to be able to reply that is all because of the Lord, “The God of the poor and friend of the weak”. Suzi has since attended Bible studies and is currently digging into God’s word. Please do be praying for Suzi and others supported by the team, for the decisions that are pending and for many more opportunities to point others to Christ.