“You’ve been really good and have really helped me out!”
Ashleigh* (age 19) was originally referred to The Benjamin Foundation Tenancy Support Scheme by staff at one of our charity’s supported accommodation centres where she had been living. Ashleigh is a care leaver and had been at the accommodation centre in Norfolk for two years. After significant effort all round, Ashleigh was eventually offered a flat. It wasn’t in her preferred location but it was close to one of her family members so she decided to take the plunge and accept the property.
During Ashleigh’s transition from The Benjamin Foundation supported accommodation to her new flat, Tenancy Support Worker Anne-Monique became involved with her case. Anne-Monique’s role is to support the young people through our Tenancy Support and Rent Deposit Schemes as they move into independence, supporting them to understand and manage the responsibilities that come with independent living. This includes support with admin, such as contacting the Department for Work and Pensions and the local Council, contacting energy suppliers and setting up accounts, to many other aspects of independent living, such as budgeting.
As a care leaver, Ashleigh had her deposit for her flat paid for by the Local Authority. However, Anne-Monique had a discussion with Ashleigh to see what else she needed help with; Ashleigh asked whether we were able to contribute towards her energy bills as all her expendable income had gone on other household essentials and she was planning to borrow the money from family for her energy bill. After some discussions, Anne-Monique was able to grant Ashleigh £150 for her to put towards her bill, for which she was extremely grateful.
When Ashleigh moved into her flat, she was received bills in the post which although addressed to the occupier, were not for Ashleigh. The letters mentioned an enforcement agent calling round to discuss non-payment. Naturally, this concerned Ashleigh greatly and she was very anxious at the prospect of bailiffs knocking at her door. Anne-Monique did her best to allay Ashleigh’s fears, then contacted the company to clarify matters. The matter was resolved very quickly and smoothly with no repercussions whatsoever for Ashleigh. This is another example of the many different areas of support our Tenancy Support Service offers the young people we work with.
We also liaise with other departments within The Benjamin Foundation, such as working with our Job Coach to support young people into education, employment and training – a service which Ashleigh has been heavily involved with during her time with us. While she lived at our supported accommodation centre, she enrolled onto a full-time Level 3 Psychology, Sociology and Cultural Studies college course which started in the September. When Ashleigh then moved to her flat, this meant she would have to get the bus to college and back. While she was happy to make the journey, the cost of travel soon added up. Anne-Monique spoke to our Job Coach to see whether we might be able to contribute towards her travel costs. Within a matter of days, Ashleigh had been awarded £40 to cover the cost of her first term’s travel. More recently, Ashleigh again asked whether there was any scope for us to contribute towards travel costs and, after Anne-Monique made some enquiries, Ashleigh was granted more funds to put towards her travel. Not only this, but we were also able to arrange for contributions towards academic resources and Ashleigh’s UCAS fee.
During the extreme cold temperatures, we have all been using our energy more, and this includes the young people we support. Ashleigh contacted Anne-Monique as she was unable to keep her energy meter topped up enough to keep her flat warm; she was topping up every day or two and it was depleting incredibly fast. After some reassurance, Anne-Monique contacted Ashleigh’s local council and completed an application on her behalf for some financial support from the national Housing Support Fund. Within 24 hours, Ashleigh had received a lump sum of £400 into her bank account to help towards the cost of heating. Ashleigh was initially shocked and confused as she wasn’t expecting such a large sum, but when she contacted the council to clarify, she was told it was correct and the money was hers. She was over the moon with this, and it enabled her to keep herself – and her two kittens – warm throughout Christmas.
Along these same lines, Anne-Monique also applied to the local water supplier for a discounted tariff for Ashleigh. After some initial teething problems, Ashleigh was put onto a new tariff, cutting her bills down from £30 to £14, plus a refund of £87 as her account was in credit!
After having worked with Anne-Monique for six months, Ashleigh’s time with the Tenancy Support Service was coming to an end. She has been so happy with and forever grateful for all the help she’s had from our Tenancy Support Service and Job Coach, and commented:
“I don’t want to lose your support, you’ve been really good and have really helped me out!”
Ashleigh has had support from The Benjamin Foundation in different forms for almost three years now, which really demonstrates the impact of our services as young people progress towards independent living.
Ashleigh’s college tutor has remarked on her excellent progress so far and, if she continues at the same pace, she’ll be a contender to receive a distinction in her exams! Her focus for 2023 is to pass her driving test so she can drive herself to university when she starts in September.
Anne-Monique comments: “Ashleigh is a very bright, capable, kind and ambitious young lady who has her whole life ahead of her – I have no doubt whatsoever that Ashleigh will achieve whatever she sets her mind to, and will do it with passion, enthusiasm and humour. Best of luck, Ashleigh!”
With your support, we can do even more to help young people like Ashleigh in Norfolk and Suffolk to lead successful, independent lives.
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