Although not a Curo resident at the time, Joanne was referred to Curo's Passport to Housing service so she could get support to move home having been affected by the 'bedroom tax'. Joanne (pictured on the left with Curo Customer Advisor Debbie) shared her story with us:
I needed to move. My son moved out and that meant I was affected by the bedroom tax. On top of that, the property I was living in was unsuitable because of my health. I couldn’t deal with the stairs and I wasn’t able to get out as regularly as I would have liked. I felt trapped in my own home.
Because of my health I had to leave my job and that affected my income and triggered a claim for Universal Credit. I didn’t know where to start.
I was put in touch with Reach’s ‘floating support’ team. They helped me with budgeting, bills and my general finances since losing my income, and it was Jerry at Reach who referred me to Passport to Housing.
It was such a relief to have help and support. I quickly realised there are agencies out there who are happy to help and that don’t judge you.
My first appointment was booked with Debbie from Curo’s Passport to Housing service. Straight away she put me at ease and explained what she could do to help. I can get stressed in certain situations, but Debbie was open and friendly. Discussing personal information like finances can be embarrassing but I felt unjudged and very relaxed.
We worked out an action plan which detailed what I needed to do and what Debbie would do to get the ball rolling and get me ready to move. Debbie helped me apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to cover the bedroom tax. This meant I didn’t run up any further rent arrears. She also helped me reduce the deductions from my Universal Credit, so I had more disposable income.
My biggest worry was the rent I owed and Debbie was also able to help with that. She made an application to St John’s Foundation who agreed to clear the arrears. It felt so good having someone on my side who knew exactly what to do – she made me feel confident. I knew I no longer had to bury my head in the sand because my problems were getting sorted and I could see light at the end of the tunnel.
Once my finances were sorted it was time to think about my move. I really wanted to be near my family for support but would have moved anywhere. I was so desperate for a better quality of life and to be able to get out and about rather than being isolated in my home because of the stairs. I was bidding on anything that came up on Homesearch because I thought I had to. Debbie explained that this wasn’t the case and that made me relax and stopped me panicking about moving.
I was overjoyed when I was selected for a one-bedroomed bungalow near to my family. As soon as I walked into the property I knew it was the right property at the right time for me, I was so eager to move in. Debbie also secured a payment from Welfare Support to help with my removal costs. I couldn’t believe it.
Very soon the property felt like home: it’s peaceful, I have lovely neighbours who always speak when they see me, checking I’m OK. It’s a proper community!
I would highly recommend Passport to Housing. They will help and support you, so go for it! It can be a big step to take but you won’t regret it, they’ll be on your side. I wasn’t even a Curo customer and was still able to access the service. I now feel so much better in myself.
Thanks to Debbie at Curo and Jerry at DHI Reach along with all the other agencies involved. You have changed my life for the better.