December can really take its toll on your finances, as George found out.
The next couple of months will be tough for a lot of people. The pressure of Christmas, alongside coronavirus, might mean families feel the strain, both financially and emotionally.
The good news is, there is help out there to ensure money troubles won’t dampen your Christmas – as one of our customers found out.
Struggling in the festive season
In the days leading up to the Christmas holidays last year, Onward Neighbourhood Specialist Lindsay went on a home visit to see George.
She quickly realised George was living in extreme poverty and social isolation.
He was trying to survive on just £190 a month in Universal Credit benefits, carefully budgeting out every penny.
He was spending £31 a month on gas and electric, making sure he didn’t use more than £1.00 per day on each. This meant most of the house was in darkness and he could barely use the heating, even though it was freezing.
George had eaten packet noodles, crisps and soup every day for the entire month, trying not to fall behind with any other bills.
He’d worked all his life but after his son passed away 18 months earlier, his mental health suffered. Because of this he found himself out of work and claiming benefits.
Turning things around
Several Onward teams rallied around after hearing what George was going through.
They put together food donations and topped up his electricity and gas. They even made a bit of extra time to visit him so he had someone to talk to.
He also went to see his doctor to get help for his depression.
Their kindness and compassion helped George get through what would have otherwise been a very dark Christmas.
A year on…
A year later and things couldn’t be more different. George started work in April and is now financially stable. He says the support he’s been given has helped save his life.
How we can help you
George’s story might sound quite extreme, but anyone can find themselves in financial difficulties for any number of reasons. Coronavirus has posed a real threat to many peoples livelihoods this year, and with Christmas round the corner, extra costs can pile up, making things even harder.
The bottom line is it’s nothing to be ashamed of and you’re not alone. You don’t have to try and struggle in silence, like George was.
If you’re an Onward customer, you can get in touch with our Financial Inclusion Team for free and confidential support.
We also recommend getting your rent wrapped up in December ahead of Christmas so you can focus on the important things – like eating your body weight in mince pies!