Sarah has a rare illness which limits her ability to work full-time. Due to a miscalculation of her housing benefit, she has found herself in arrears. Her housing association has tried to help her with this, but she is not earning enough to begin paying off her debts. She wants to pay off her debt in order to focus on managing her pain, and on providing for her daughter and step-child. Read her full story below:
My name is Sarah and I’m 23 years old. I am a mum to a little girl of 4, and a stepmother to an 11 year old. I have a rare illness called EDS (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) which significantly affects my daily life. It means that my skin and connective tissue are very stretchy, meaning that I have dislocations and subluxations very frequently. My illness has affected my nerves, and has given me fibromyalgia, which is very painful. I have my good days and my bad days, but every day is a battle.
I am a very happy, motivated person. I run a home for two children and I am also working in a coffee shop, although my illness does have implications for the amount of work I can do. Currently, I am being forced to work almost full-time due to financial difficulties, which has been having a negative impact on my health. I have been advised by a specialist that I should stop working, but I cannot currently do so without failing to properly support the two children in my care.
Due to all of this, I have found myself in financial difficulty. I have rent arrears, which were caused in part by a miscalculation regarding my housing benefit. This debt crept up on me this year, and I am unable to pay it off fully by myself.
As of April this year, we have received no help - financial or otherwise. Every bill has been a struggle, as we do not receive any benefits. A flare up my health condition meant that I needed to go to pain rehab, so we were dependent on one wage to cover everything from the months of March until July.
My housing association have been understanding of my health difficulties, and have extended my tenancy for six months so that I can try to pay off my arrears. I am budgeting strictly in order to do so, however so far we are only meeting our required rent each month, so our arrears remain the same. I would like to get out of this predicament, so that I can focus on my health, and on managing my pain.
I have gone back to working part-time, as I love my job and I work with some amazing people. I do not want to quit working, but working full-time is currently proving detrimental to my health.
I applied for some help in the form of PIP (Personal Independence Payment), yet I have heard nothing back. I am hoping that through collaborating with Greater Change I can pay off my arrears, and then work on my goal of opening a social enterprise coffee shop which employs people with disabilities.
I want to show my gratitude to anybody who is willing to donate, to help me concentrate on getting better, and to move forward with my life!