Kara enjoying a cup of tea on her sofa

Kara and her son moved to their Grand Union home from a women’s refuge three years ago. Having been through some tough times, they were excited to finally have a place of their own.

“At first I was happy, but then I went downhill. I was on Employment Support Allowance, then it was taken away from me.

“The bills were racking up, I was behind with my rent and my Universal Credit wasn’t getting sorted either.

“I was too scared to look at my bank account and I didn’t even open the curtains because if I saw the postman coming, I knew the mail would just be bills and bad news.

Kara was referred to our Wellbeing and Support team due to the extent of her rent arrears and Katy, one of our Wellbeing and Support Co-ordinators who support customers to sustain their tenancies, got in touch with Kara.

“Katy had so much faith in me and helped me to organise my standing orders for my rent and my bills so I could stop worrying about them. These might sound like small things to some people, but this was a big step for me. I’m proud how far I’ve come, from thinking that I couldn’t do it.

“I’ve even built furniture and laid laminate flooring – it’s given me a real sense of accomplishment.

“All I needed was that bit of help and it’s shown me that every step is a step towards good times.

“Katy is so lovely and approachable. Even now I can email her if I have a problem. She puts my mind at ease and makes me realise that things won’t be as bad as you think.

“I can afford to live now and treat myself and my son occasionally.

“Katy even secured me some family funding so we could go on a much-needed holiday. It was fantastic!”

Since Kara moved into her flat, she’s not only tackled her finances, she’s also taken to doing something she’s dreamt of doing for years.

“I’ve been wanting to learn to drive for many years, but that hadn’t been an option for me before. So one day, whilst on a computer in the library, I went on to the driving theory test website and booked my theory test. I’m pleased to say I passed first time!

“I have the best driving instructor – she’s also a great agony aunt, listening and giving me advice. Sometimes my son sits in the back of the car when I’m having lessons and he looks out the window, or sometimes plays on his tablet. It gives me confidence knowing that he’s ok in the car and won’t distract me.

“My driving test had to be postponed due to Covid, but it’s rescheduled for September. I’ve got a car sitting on my dad’s driveway, just waiting for me to pass my test.

“All this new-found confidence has given me a real boost.

“Now I have hopes for the future. I want to get my divorce sorted out, pass my driving test and give something back to refuges, seeing as they helped me so much, and I want to go abroad.

“I was like a shell back then and just so tired. I was existing but not living and had buried my head in the sand. I’ve learnt the sooner you get things done, the sooner they’re not an issue.

“Thankfully, now I’m a world away from the person Katy met at the start.”

Katy added: “It has been an absolute pleasure to support Kara. The first time I visited her, the curtains were drawn and she was full of worry. We discussed everything that needed to be done and together we made a plan of how we were going to tackle each task in manageable bits.

“Since then Kara has gone from strength to strength and it is great to see her and her son happy and thriving after all they have been through.”