Tag: housing association

Not my day off

Today has been demanding. It’s one of those days that seems too much to have been only one day. I got big stuff done but also I’m losing time in unsettling ways and I know I was dissociating a lot between the different tasks and meetings I had to do, slipping out of being engaged with what’s going on and what I’m feeling and struggling to come back. Nevertheless I got through quite a few challenges.

Last night I knew I needed to tidy and clean my flat. My support worker was coming today. Also I hadn’t been on top of the housework since my operation and it was bothering me more and more. Recently I’ve started to find a greater sense of order and calmness if I don’t have too many things disorganised around me. This is interesting because til now, I’ve tended towards accumulating things I don’t need and not being able to keep my house ordered, not exactly hoarding but not being able to face items and paperwork and household tasks without going into panic.

Yesterday I was very anxious about today but put some of the physical drive from the anxiety into cleaning and then went on to clearing out some of my cupboards. By late evening I’d cleared 7 big bags (between rubbish and charity shop) and set 3 more big bags of things to try to sell at a car boot sale. The fact I don’t have a car for the boot element of that plan is potentially problematic 🙂 but there are the odd few table-top, largely indoor, sales in community centres / church halls here in the summer and I’m hoping I can find one to join in.

Today was a struggle to get up. Everything hurt. Still, I got together the papers I needed to show my new support worker (more on this tomorrow), then it was off to my care coordination appointment with my CPN. This wasn’t easy to go to because, although my last appointment was okay, in the two previous appointments I’d been really distressed and felt I didn’t get heard when I was desperate and at risk. Today’s appointment was actually really good. We looked at some DBT skills and we did a review which was overdue (every 6 months or so is a review appointment). I’ve not yet felt able to discuss with my care coordinator exactly what went wrong in the difficult appointments earlier this year when everything was going to pieces. I’m scared I’d lose control and the feelings of anger and not being believed would return and I’d do bad things and be back where I was. However my care coordinator and I have managed to move forwards having 2 positive appointments. I was scared after what I’d done – how upset and angry I’d got – he wouldn’t believe me or want me anymore and they’d know how bad I am and that I didn’t deserve help. That hasn’t happened. That’s something that I don’t usually get to experience.

Straight after my care coordination I met my support worker, H., who is from a housing support charity I was referred to recently. He is going to help me sort out my benefits like Housing & Council Tax Benefit, Tax Credits and disability benefits,  as well as liaising with my landlord about the rent arrears that I got into when I lost my job last year. It was a long appointment. We went through the background to how I’d got here, financially and in terms of my health, and we looked at lots of documentation, my income and my benefit and Council Tax notices. This took a lot out of me and I came so close inside to panic and losing it and emotions shooting too high. H. was very calm and non judgemental, which helped a lot. (More on this in the next couple of days.)

Then I had to rush to my GP appointment, which was the first since I’d been very distressed and angry at the surgery a couple of weeks ago;  also the first since my operation and finding out endometriosis isn’t actually the explanation for my pain and gynae issues. I’m still working through what happened in today’s appointment. I was dreading going into the surgery because I’m still terrified of what I did and how much I lost it. I was ashamed and embarrased and knew that they probably didn’t want me around again. I knew I’d really upset and inconvenienced and disturbed people. I’d scared people. That’s the worst thing,  the harm I caused, the bad I’ve always feared getting out of me. Talking to the GP  and discussing what happened and then also talking about my physical health was really emotionally charged.  It’s hard trying to deal with a lot of uncertainties about my physical symptoms. I know not having endometriosis is a really good thing but not having any explanation for all the things I thought it explained, and the fact the doctor isn’t really interested any more in investigating what may be wrong – well, that’s hard and triggers all my fears that it’s all in my head, I’ve made it up or I’m mad, it’s my fault. …

After the GP it was off to the pharmacy with my prescription, then finally home.

It’s been quite a day. I had a soothing bath tonight. Today was the first day I could have a bath since the operation (don’t worry I promise I did still wash 😉 !). The doctor sealed the wound with dissolvable stitches so it was important not to soak them in water too soon or they could have come undone. Also it was not safe to try to get in and out of the bath whilst my mobility was further reduced with post op effects. Falling is a risk for me anyway because of the problems the fibromyalgia and arthritis cause in my legs. So, tonight was a good little relaxation and refreshment. The little things do help!

How has your day been?

Ginny xxx

 

It just doesn’t stretch, whatever I do

I’m scared I’m so close to everything falling apart. Financially. But it feels like everything.

I got an automated voicemail message from my landlord telling me I’m to call them urgently to discuss “ways we can help you to pay your rent”. They had closed by the time I finished work so I have to wait til tomorrow to call them and find out exactly what it’s about but I know it will be about my rent arrears. I doubt they will be “helping” me pay, somehow! I know the fact of having to call them doesn’t instantly change anything but I’m really panicking.

I was struggling already today, feeling very sad after a difficult 1:1 therapy session on Monday, a friendship having broken down and a few other things. After getting this message I just wanted to crawl under my duvet, cry, shut off, everything and nothing…and the urge to cut is very strong but I’m trying to resist.

Nothing is working out. I got into arrears last year when I lost my job, wasn’t paid notice and holiday pay as expected, and my housing benefit didn’t come through for 10 weeks. Working part time I’ve been entitled to some housing benefit but my claim has been messed up, suspended, altered back and forth from start to finish and I’ve had more periods of weeks with no money coming in. I’ve been paying my rent, with great difficulty, but not able to clear the arrears.

Now they have stopped my housing benefit because my salary has increased by a few pence per hour. This leaves me unable to meet even the tightest budget. I do not have enough money to cover the bare minimun of rent, council tax, bills like electricity, telephone, prescriptions, travel to the hospital, some access to the internet and food (let alone any other expenses like buying clothes when needed, any longer distance travel, or socialising). I’ve cut back as much as I can, especially on food. I don’t make proper meals, just toast, cereal and cheap snacks. It makes me feel awful (plenty of guilt for bad fattening food) but I can’t afford anything else.

I know the arrears are my responsibility and I have to pay. I feel panic and guilt every day over them. I know that in the past when very unwell I made poor financial decisions and was irresponsible with money, which has contributed to why I don’t have savings. So has the fact that I’ve been too ill physically to work full time at several points in the last 10 years.

Part of what is so upsetting is that I am now doing all I can but I still can’t stretch to cover the tightest budget or see any way to change things. I am pushing myself as hard as I can to keep going to work. It’s very difficult mentally – and I’m sad that it is so hard to do it but that is the situation I have to accept right now. It’s very difficult physically too. The pain I’m in from the fibromyalgia, arthritis and so on has been increasing since I started and each day it gets harder to do certain things (going up and down stairs, staying on my feet for lengths of time, etc) and if it carries on it’ll get to a point the pain is too much or I can’t stand long enough or something like that. I hoped if I kept pushing I’d get better at dealing with it but that isn’t happening and instead everything is flaring up.

I really want to keep working. I’m blessed with kind and happy colleagues, a caring employer, a creative environment, varied days, lots to learn and so many good things. Psychologically this job is so much less stressful than the legal secretarial work I couldn’t cope with. There’s so much that should be positive that I don’t want to waste.

However I’m in a situation that I just can’t cover day to day living going forward let alone clear the arrears I owe. It shouldn’t be a reason to give up but when things seem to be falling apart anyway, it’s harder to keep pushing through the physical pain and mental struggle to keep working.

I feel really trapped because with the rent situation alone I think I’m going to end up losing my flat. I know the landlord, being a housing association, has given me more time with the arrears than many other landlords would. A private landlord would have thrown me out ages ago. I know that’s another way I’m fortunate. It’s my responsibility but I don’t know how I can or will be able to pay.

Even if I could clear the arrears  I don’t know how I’d pay the rent going forward. If I can’t,  I don’t know where I’d live because I have no money for a deposit to rent privately. If I went back to renting a room as a lodger my mental health would crash downhill but at this point I would have to be grateful for anything. If I lose this place and end up homeless I’d lose my job. I might anyway if my physical health keeps going down.

It’s horrible thinking even if I get evicted and lose my flat, I don’t know how I’ll change my situation. It’s horrible that trying as hard as I can to do the work I can, I’m not able to live on what I earn and I’m assessed not to be entitled to any benefits despite this. I want to work as much as I can but I’m actually in a worse situation, it appears, than if I were not working at all signed off sick. My rent and council tax would then be covered by benefits. Not that that would help with the arrears but it would at least cover rent going forward. The system says it shouldn’t happen that you are worse off working than not, but it does. I’m actually put into a situation where doing the most work I can means I’m left with not enough to live.

I was referred well over two weeks ago to an organisation that would help me sort all this out and talk to my landlord. I was supposed to have been seen by them within two weeks. I chased up as I hadn’t heard, only to find out they said they had not received my referral from the support worker. It had got lost in the secure email system somewhere,  ironically. It has been sent to them again but now they are not likely to see me til after my operation.

I have no idea what to do. There are so many “if”s and a spiraling whirl of consequences that make it feel that everything’s already falling apart.

I don’t want to make out I have it harder than the next person. I know so many people are in this situation. I know I have to deal with it. It’s a time I wish someone could catch me when I’m falling like this but I know that’s nobody’s responsibility. I’m scared and everything’s already unravelling inside.i suppose I have to try not to listen to the spirals in my head until at least after I’ve spoken to my landlord tomorrow.

Ginny xxx

We’re applying to evict you… Happy Christmas!

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.

Ginny xx