After fleeing an African country and arriving in the UK, Barbara had no status in the country and no recourse to Public Funds, she was taken into the care of the Red Cross. She had nowhere to live, was unable to find work and not allowed to claim benefits. As a consequence of this Barbara’s mental health suffered. Barbara was referred to Caridon, but we were initially unable to help due to her status. However, our team stood by Barbara and eventually she was granted leave to remain in the country, which opened up her entitlement to claim benefits.
Susan Passman, our Housing Benefit Manager, helped Barbara to claim ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) and obtained a deposit and an advance from the local council so that she could secure a flat. Barbara went from strength to strength coming off ESA onto JSA (Job-Seekers Allowance) and then looking for work. Eventually she was in a much better place, her health and confidence returned and she went off to study and work.
Six years later, Barbara has now completed a degree, transitioned to independent living, secured a flat in the private rented sector and has a full-time job working for Westminster Drug Project, a charity committed to helping those who are affected by substance misuse.
Here is what Barbara had to say:
“When I first met Susan Passman, Caridon’s Housing Benefit Manager, I was facing an extremely difficult time, I would cry all the time and really had no hope. At the time, I did not even know what Universal Credit was, or how I would find work or somewhere to live.
Susan guided me through absolutely everything, she became like a mentor. She helped me apply for the right benefits, found me accommodation, which became my home for five years, and helped me find work as a carer. She then encouraged me to study alongside my job, so I went back to college to study health and social care management and from there was inspired to complete a degree in public health. Caridon also supported me in managing my finances so that I could pay back my debts and learn to live independently.
Susan and the team at Caridon have done more for me than l could ever have imaged and they did it with passion, empathy and encouragement. They never gave up on me. The team’s willingness to help whenever I needed it has been invaluable and I do not believe I would have achieved what I have today without their support. I have now left Caridon and have started the next chapter of my journey but I will always stay in touch and consider the team life-long friends.
I wanted to share my story to give others hope, because people think they cannot move on from whatever situation they are stuck in, but they can. Caridon’s flexibility and dedication has not only provided me with a wonderful experience but it has changed my life. I will be eternally grateful.”