Curo customer Ann Davis shares her experience of using Curo's Passport to Housing scheme:
After I split up from my partner I was left with a joint tenancy in a three-bedroom property and became affected by the ‘bedroom tax’. That limited the amount of support I could claim to help with my rent. I fell into further rent arrears because of this and because of problems with my Universal Credit claim.
I used to do four jobs until I became ill and had to give up work. This had a massive impact on my income. I became stressed and anxious. It felt like I wasn’t in control of my life anymore.
I’ve been homeless in the past and never want to be in that position again. Before my meeting with Curo’s Passport to Housing I felt very low and thought about taking my own life. I was very scared of losing my home I didn’t know where to turn and what help and support was available to me.
I was referred to Passport to Housing by my Account Manager at Curo, Louise, as I needed to downsize to a one bedroom property. When I met Louise she was firm but fair; she was doing her job and had to be straight with me and say I was at risk of losing my home if my arrears continued to increase.
I felt very scared to meet with Debbie from Curo’s Passport to Housing. I thought she might not be able to help me as I’d already engaged many other agencies and got nowhere.
At my first meeting we went through an income and expenditure plan. Debbie quickly realised that I should have been receiving more Universal Credit. She listened to me without judgement and I felt very relaxed in her company, knowing straight away that she’d help me with all my financial and housing difficulties.
I was struggling to feed myself and to pay for gas and electricity. Welfare Support helped me on several occasions, ensuring I could eat and have some warmth in my flat.
Debbie referred me to the Citizens Advice Bureau to help sort out some of my more complicated debts and they met me at my home. Debbie also spoke to me about other benefits I might be entitled to due to my poor health. We later secured sickness benefit which improved my income greatly.
I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
Debbie identified what debts I held and requested a backdated payment from Universal Credit. I couldn’t have been happier.
Throughout the process Debbie kept me up to date on progress and I felt reassured that something was being done to help me. Debbie talked to me about an appointment I had to attend with the benefits agency to see if I was fit for work. This gave me the confidence to attend the meeting knowing it would help with my Universal Credit claim.
I was successful in bidding on a property but still had outstanding rent arrears. I was told I was eligible for extra benefit through Universal Credit because of my health and received enough money to clear my arrears.
Debbie did so much to ensure my move went ahead. She even successfully applied for funding through Welfare Support to cover my removal costs.
I now have my own garden and I’m living in a one-bedroom property in a quiet area that I can afford. My health is slowly improving, I feel more in control and I’m happier to deal with things that I would have put off before… opening my mail for one!
I’d urge anyone who is struggling financially to get help sooner rather than later – the support is out there.
If you’re looking to move or downsize, do use Passport to Housing. I know I would have been evicted and homeless without Debbie’s help.
Pictured, L-R: Curo New Customer Advisor Debbie Brinsmead-Williams, Curo customer Ann Davis and Curo Executive Director of Customer Experience Paul Harris.