Sarah was a single mother of five young children, who had lost her husband in an accident. She tried her best to bring up her children alone, despite being moved from county to county as the authorities tried to find suitable accommodation for the six of them. Finally, she was found a lovely three- bedroom house, but it was completely unfurnished. She contacted her local SVP in considerable distress, as she was desperate to move into her new home but had no idea how to make it habitable. Her SVP Conference was able to find her almost everything she needed, including bed linen and clothes.
Sarah eventually started to relax and to enjoy her family. But then a letter came informing her that some of her benefits had been overpaid and would be clawed back by £75 a week, a large share of her budget. This coincided with the winter and a huge rise in energy prices, which she could now ill afford. She regularly ran out of electricity and members would drive the 40 miles to her house to top up her card.
Sarah had always been completely truthful and had never calculated her own benefits so it seemed cruel and unfair now, not only to reduce her payments but also to ask her to pay for someone else's mistake. Despite the best efforts of SVP members, the benefits office was intransigent. Sarah was in despair and feared losing her home. We helped her to find a part-time job, which did wonders for her bank balance and her confidence. Sarah remains in her house and continues to juggle her work with bringing up her family. She is also now a valuable member of the SVP herself, as she knows first-hand how precious a little help can be at times of crisis.
This case study and many more like it can be found in our book ‘Changing Lives’, available for a suggested donation of £5.00. Contact the SVP National Office to order a copy.