Jenny receives support with her finances, mental health and enjoys a brighter Christmas

Our client, Jenny, lives with her partner and 3 children. She is a full time teacher at a local secondary school and her husband currently works part time due to the coronavirus. Her husband was made redundant a day before her youngest was born a few years ago – the stress of this resulted in him having a breakdown and struggling to get re-employed. Since then, they have acquired debts that equal into their thousands and have had trouble paying them off. Jenny was referred to Integrated Plus initially for support with their financial situation and the crisis point that was nearing.

At the time of our support, Jenny was off sick from work due to the stresses of the above. Jenny agreed for a referral to the Arts Of Change for counselling, as she felt that she was on the edge of her own breakdown with having to care for her children, her father and her husband. We also sent information on the Debt Life Centre in Stourbridge – who could go through the debts one by one and offer to sort out a payment plan.

At the time of our referral, we had had a generous contribution of ASDA vouchers to Dudley CVS for people who were struggling to afford food or necessities at the time, especially due to the financial burdens of the pandemic. I offered one of these to Jenny and she accepted this support.   

When I called back to Jenny a month later to see how things went, she was really happy with the ASDA voucher. It meant she could buy items that they had wanted for a while, and buy foods in bulk that they needed. This helped to take the edge off the weekly shop, which can become quite pricey for a family of 5!

As a service, we had been offered 5 places for families who were struggling financially to have a Christmas dinner hamper sent to them for Christmas time. This generous offer was made by The Christmas Lunch Project who’s mission is to support families with children who cannot afford to buy all of the ingredients to cook a Christmas Lunch on Christmas Day. Jenny agreed to this, and was very grateful for the offer – “To be offered something like a Christmas Hamper by a service is truly heart-warming. Especially as my father in law who passed away not long ago, would have usually paid for this in recent years.”

Jenny explained that they had managed to find some money to pay off their debts, by the sale of her father in laws property. Although this hasn’t paid off all of the debts, they are in a better situation now where the important debts have been paid and can manage to pay monthly sums for their other debts.

We also offered the support of the voluntary sectors Operation Santa project, which take’s place every year at Christmas time in Dudley. Generous donations are gifted to the project by individuals, organisations and businesses – in order to help the children of vulnerable families or families in need at Christmas time. Jenny agreed for us to refer her into this, and presents were sorted for her 3 children ready for Christmas. Here we have been able to take the edge off another expensive time of year!

“The sale of the flat, coupled with the generosity from the voluntary sector projects like the Christmas lunch project and Operation Santa, has helped us enormously when needing support at such a difficult time financially”.

Jenny has had two face to face sessions with an Arts of Change counsellor and has found this really helpful:

I needed support because I was living in a state of panic. The counsellor here helped me with techniques and coping mechanisms to deal with panic. I am now also keeping a journal for when I have a lot of problems that I cant seem to pin down in my brain. This allows me to rationalise them and makes them clearer when I put pen to paper. The counsellor has also allowed me to talk out difficult conversations that I have had in my life, for example arguments with family members. I have then been able to see them from different perspectives. Being offered the option of seeing a counsellor face to face, especially at the time of the Covid pandemic has been really helpful. It has made the whole process more meaningful for me”. 

Jenny’s experiences on the help we offered:

“When we first ran into trouble, I thought there was no way we could get support. I was earning and so was my husband so we couldn’t claim any benefits or get any welfare grants – however in reality this money was going straight towards paying off our debts. We had relied on extra bits of income before Covid, for example my partner working longer hours and I was offering one to one schooling tuition to pay for our weekly expenses. Since covid – this extra bit of income had stopped. My husband could not find the extra work and I was unable to go into other people’s homes to teach. This really affected us, and thought we would have to sell our house in order to manage.

I was able to speak to my GP at the surgery, who then referred me onto the Mental Health nurse as well as Georgia and Gary at Integrated Plus. The support (mentioned above) that was offered to me was such a great help. It really made me feel that there was such a joined up approach within the services. I really didn’t know which way to turn and I have been helped so much by each and every service that supported us. We are now in a better position, and although there are still things to overcome, it is so nice to know that there are people out there who are willing to help”.

Georgia Pearsall & Gary Hastie

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