Mental health and money issues highlighted by support project

The Wales Co-operative Centre is currently running its fourth annual Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign.

The campaign is demonstrating a number of ways in which the Centre is helping to reduce poverty through the projects it runs, the businesses and organisations it supports and the people who are the end beneficiaries of that support.

Today we look at one example of the work that has been supported by ‘Your Money, Your Home’ (YMYH), a Wales Co-operative Centre project which provides advice and guidance to Private Rented Sector tenants in Wales, and prepares people for the introduction of Universal Credit.

We’ve received this story from Sarah Burgess, one of the YMYH Project Officers…

PF is a single man in his early fifties, living alone in a one bedroom flat in Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent.

As the telephone details provided for the tenant were no longer in use, I sent him a letter briefly explaining the support available through YMYH. This prompted him to phone me, but it became apparent that he found it challenging to speak in any detail over the telephone so I arranged to visit him at his flat. He explained that he had schizophrenia, but it had been undiagnosed for years and this had caused him to get in trouble with the police and not live a very stable life. He received treatment and had great insight into his condition. But he found it very difficult to trust people due to hearing voices and felt very isolated, rarely having visitors or going out. He was in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment.

He felt unable to manage his money himself and had support from his sister who helped him to pay the bills by accessing his post office account and paying the cash via payment cards. The rent was covered by housing benefit and paid directly to the landlord – he was happy with this arrangement and had no desire to take back this responsibility, as he found it overwhelming due to the effects of his mental health condition.  Although it may be a few years before he is migrated to universal credit it is likely, given his long standing mental health condition, that he will qualify for an alternative payment arrangement.

He was concerned that his flat was unsuitable, as he experienced blackouts and had done so previously on the very steep stairs to the flat. He wanted to move to a ground floor flat, preferably in a sheltered complex, where he could access a warden for support should he need it. I agreed to refer PF to the specialist housing related support service run by The Wallich in Ebbw Vale, through the council’s Supporting People department, to assist him with the re-housing process.

When I followed up the work with PF he told me that he had begun working with the support worker who he liked very much (this was important for him as he found it difficult to trust people due to his schizophrenia) and he was hopeful that they could work together to look at his housing options and she could help him to move to somewhere more suitable to live with the appropriate support.

 Today (February 2nd) is also Time to Talk Day – a day of action organised by the Time to Change campaign, aimed at getting more people talking about mental health.

You can follow the Tackling Poverty Fortnight on Twitter @WalesCoopCentre and through the hashtag #PovertyInWales.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *