Since I lost / was forced to leave my secretarial job at the end of October, financially things have been terrible. Not only had I lost my income for the future, I lost expected income – I was paid only SSP for the time I had been signed off, rather than my wage, and was not told this until afterwards; I was not paid all the holiday pay I believe was due to me; I was given neither a notice period as specified in my contract, nor paid the notice period salary, so I was left without a month’s salary. In the end this left me down about £2,000.
I have taken steps against my former employer, reporting to them to the regulator for how I and several other colleagues were treated, however I have no hope of seeing this money. I can’t afford court proceedings and would have little hope to win.
I was very fortunate to find my current job at a department store but it is fewer hours (this is all I can now manage around my hospital appointments and with the state of my mental and physical health at the moment) and much lower pay. I thank the Lord that I have any job at all. It could have been much worse.
I have to apply for several benefits and the process takes weeks at best before any money comes through.
I had problems paying my rent in November, whilst I was waiting for my Housing and Council Tax benefit to be calculated and to receive any money. I was paid very little in November from my new job, because the finance department’s cut-off dates meant that though I had worked nearly a month, I received only one week’s pay. I phoned up the housing association from which I rent and told them about my situation and they were apparently very helpful. They agreed that whilst I was awaiting the Housing Benefit, I should just pay what I could.
I rang them several times and had several conversations with them, as did the council who needed to confirm some details for my benefit claim. Each time I spoke to them I asked to arrange a payment plan to deal with the arrears of rent and each time I was told that I couldn’t do this and should wait until the Housing Benefit had come through.
Then on 23rd December, I came home from work to find a letter from the housing association saying that they were applying to the Court for possession of my flat!! I would be evicted and would be liable for their Court fees.
This tipped me over the edge. It was absolutely more than I could cope with. By providence I was on the phone to a friend when I opened the letter. I still went completely to pieces and was literally about to take an overdose. If my friend had not talked to me for a long time I believe that I would have gone through with it. Thankfully after speaking on the phone to my friend at length, I was then absolutely overwhelmed with exhaustion and slept til the morning, which probably again saved me from doing anything.
The next day I phoned the housing association first thing. They told me that it was not a notice of eviction that I had received and that “it might be possible to avoid going to Court”!! Why would I be taken to Court, I asked. They claimed that I had not contacted them since the end of October. They claimed that I had not asked to make a payment plan. They said that it was my fault, when actually I had done everything that they told me to do. I had asked to make the payment plan and they had told me that I could not. If I had made a payment plan, this would not have happened, they said. So why did they tell me I could not make a payment plan, when I asked to do it? They claimed they did not know I had physical or mental health problems, when the reason I was housed with them was because of my health problems, when the tenancy support worker who helped me at the start of my tenancy had discussed them with them, when I had declared them on the forms I had to fill in at the start of my tenancy, and when I had discussed my situation in full on all the occasions I had phoned them since I lost my job (which they claimed to have no knowledge of).
I told them that the letter I had received – a day before Christmas, basically – had caused me so much distress that I had been about to take an overdose. “Oh dear,” they said….
Yes, oh dear! And a bit more.
After a long conversation they agreed to suspend action until mid January and I now have to write to them with all the dates I contacted them and what was arranged each time. And I will certainly be sending a letter of complaint.
How is it possible for them to claim they have no record or knowledge of any of the conversations I have had with them? How is it possible for them to claim they did not know my health problems? I will certainly conduct all future correspondence with them by letter sent by signed for delivery, so that they cannot deny I have made contact with them. How could they take no responsibility whatsoever for having not recorded any of the conversations I had with them, and not sharing information within their organisation? They lady I spoke to on Christmas Eve just said over and over, “well, I didn’t know any of this, you’ve never spoken to me”.
This really was almost more than I could cope with. I now feel that it’s a immediate possibility that I will lose my home.
I felt so angry once the first terror had passed. I had just got myself out of debt when I lost my job and now I am out of control and thrown straight back in again. I know it is only my responsibility to resolve it but I do not know how I can get out of this. Everything else mentally is worse because this constant anxiety is bubbling and rising in the background. I so needed my home to be safe for once. It’s like I’m not allowed to be safe and secure because as soon as something improves for a little while, it’s taken away and crashes again.
It’s too easy to resent when I feel like this. I need to be able to keep hoping, keep doing all I can to sort this out, apply for benefits, keep working, keep praying. God does not test us more than we can stand. But I don’t see that I can stand.