In The Well we often meet people who are going through the most challenging of times, and it is our privilege that they often turn to us for help.
Here are three true stories that we are in the middle of right now. If you are a person who prays, we would really appreciate prayer – both for the people concerned and for us as we try our best to support them and try to help them find solutions. All of them have found themselves in difficulty through no fault of their own.
Mr N is from the Middle East. He was granted limited leave to remain for 5 years. Being a very diligent & honourable person, with an excellent solicitor, and a very good friend to support him, he submitted his paperwork to have his status made permanent in plenty of time. No matter how often his solicitor contacted UKBA he was constantly told that Mr N’s file was in the queue and would be dealt with in due course. Fine. Except it has left Mr N in total limbo, and meant he has faced considerable frustration trying to apply for benefit or to get work. He has had his benefits stopped and only with great perseverance and hard work from many people, been able to get them restarted.
The real frustration in this case is the sheer length of time this has been going on – two years! For two years he has been in limbo. I find that appalling, that someone can be left that way for so long, and not a single thing they can do about it.
Mr A is an 75+ year old who came in one day last week for the first time. He doesn’t have a word of English, but I worked out it was a housing matter and that he wanted to understand his lease. We have letting agents as our neighbours and I knew that Ahmed speaks Punjabi, so I asked for his help. It turns out this old man has been badly neglected by his family who have basically dumped him with little thought for his care or well-being. Yesterday Ahmed and I had a long talk about how best we could support him. Ahmed is going to help him self-refer to Social work – which will hopefully open up a care package for him – at least providing him a hot meal every day, we’re going to make sure he gets put unto a waiting list for Sheltered Housing, and ensure he is getting Carer’s Allowance. We’re also trying to encourage him to go to the elderly day centre for his community. I have to say Ahmed has been a star!
This case made me really sad – there’s something deeply upsetting about seeing a vulnerable old person being neglected in such a way.
The third picture in my mind is a young single mother of 5 children. Abandoned by her husband, she comes into The Well every day to try and get things sorted. Tax Credits have lost her youngest son’s passport and birth certificate. This means she cannot claim Income Support, as she cannot prove she has a child under 5. Child Benefit will not process her claim until she submits all the passports and birth certificates and Child Tax Credits refuse to pay her anything as they say she is not a genuine job seeker! So there you have it, 5 children and £71 a week!
Last week after we finally traced where the passport had been lost – she had not been sure which agency had lost it (in December!!!) – I asked if I could pray with her. She happily agreed, and although there is still no sign of the passport, she now comes into The Well smiling. Nothing has changed in her circumstances, but she’s knows we care and are trying our best to sort this mess out – that at least is making a difference. She has a very supportive family, which makes a huge difference to someone in her circumstances.
If you could see the effort that our volunteers make to help such people, and the lengths they go to to help – then no doubt you would be very impressed. Honestly they give so much of themselves, and they really care about the outcome. I am so proud of them!