Bedroom tax stories: Sam
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing
Bedroom tax stories: Sam
Sam found herself spiralling into debt and despair after the introduction of the bedroom tax. However once she finally admitted her problems to Plymouth Community Homes (PCH), her housing officer was able to help her get back on track and now she is looking forward to a brighter future in her new home.
Five years ago things were pretty great. I was living in a two-bedroom house at Crownhill with my teenage son, Ashley, while my elder son Ryan was back and forth. As a single mother, I was working part time as a cleaner. I was happy and enjoying life with my boys.
However, my oldest son started having problems and I got quite low. Although I went to the doctors for anti-depressants, nothing really helped and I spiralled down into the depths of despair. My sons both moved away separately and I was left to my own devices. I stopped working and lost the will to do anything.
One of the PCH housing officers, Sarah, came round to speak to me about the bedroom tax and told me that now I was on my own in the house I would be liable for the extra money – unless I moved to a one-bed property. I was really scared. The thought of anything else changing really frightened me so I panicked and told her I would be fine and even set up a direct debit for the extra £10.56 a week.
But all I did was worry, especially when I missed a JobCentre appointment and all my benefits stopped. As my money drained away I got into rent arrears. Nothing was paid and the more the bills arrived, the more scared I got. I didn’t wash or dress and was barely eating. I refused to go to the door unless I knew who was there and was scared to open my post.
I knew Sarah had been calling for me and I could see letters from PCH piling up at the door, but I would hide when someone came to the house. It was only one day when she happened to see me through the window I realised how serious things had become and realised I couldn’t hide anymore, so I let her in. She was so kind and understanding and she promised to help me out of my trouble.
She said she understood my fears and would help me find a new home. She even said that if she had to write to me she would put a red flower on the envelope so I would know the letter was nothing to worry about. It felt amazing to me that someone would understand and care enough to do that for me.
After she had gone, I felt brave enough to open the letters from PCH. They weren’t threatening at all but just had lots of homes that could have been available for me to move too, and some of them I really liked so I began to feel much better. This year I moved to a new one-bedroom property that Sarah found for me in Kings Tamerton and I am really happy here. She negotiated for me and thought to get me use of the whole garden for my German Shepherd, Rocky.
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