Supporting people to overcome barriers by connecting them with services, support and activities

Robert had a long career in the building trade and was in a loving relationship with his partner of 15 years. Unfortunately, Robert’s partner passed away very suddenly in April 2016. Around this time, Robert also lost another family member and was having to deal with the bereavement of two people very close to him. Shortly after this, Robert was diagnosed with osteoporosis, and was signed off work. Since then, Robert’s household bills spiralled out of control, as he had only been receiving Statutory Sick Pay and his partner had previously managed all of the household finances.

Robert was referred to Integrated Plus by his GP, and he started working with a Locality Link Officer. The Officer supported Robert to access a Gateway Appointment at the local Citizens Advice, so that Robert could receive help in managing his finances and debts. Citizens Advice ensured that Robert was receiving all of the benefits he was entitled to and liaised with creditors to arrange affordable payment plans for him. Through the help of Citizens Advice accessed through Integrated Plus, Robert has been able to organise his council tax, housing benefit, bank, electric and gas debts and is now making contributions to these, which he is able to afford.

Around the time that Robert’s partner passed away, Robert had also received a parking ticket. Due to the other issues taking priority at the time, this remained unpaid, and was starting to develop into a substantial amount of debt. The Officer approached the creditors and asked whether anything could be done due to the extenuating circumstances. They agreed that Robert would be able to complete a form, send this back, and they would then consider the situation. Our Locality Link Support Worker helped Robert to complete the forms. Unfortunately, the creditors refused to take into account the extenuating circumstances, and directed the Support Worker to the Local Authority. After many long conversations and emails with Dudley Council, they agreed to waive the debt, providing the original parking ticket fee was paid within 2 weeks, which was done and the matter has now been closed. Robert said that this was a ‘massive weight off my shoulders’.

Due to Robert’s diagnosis of osteoporosis, he is unable to go back to his previous job in the building trade. However, he was successful in applying for a handyman role in a nearby shopping centre. He is due to start work full time, and is looking forward to being around customers, and being in a better position financially. Robert has also been spending time with old friends, and is now in a much more positive place. Robert has said that he ‘can’t thank the Integrated Plus team enough’ and that he finally feels that ‘things are moving forward’ for him.

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