Mr H was in court for non payment of fines, relating to a road traffic offence. He appeared before the magistrates very agitated, nervous and somewhat distressed. He explained the reason he had not paid the fine was that he had not received the letters. His serious mental and physical health problems had caused him to overlook the situation and bury his head in the sand. It was plain to see he had a catalogue of personal problems and the magistrates dealt with him by court detention with the condition he came to CASS for help.
Mr H has a rare blood disorder and numerous other ailments so serious that he has not been able to work for a number of years, so has been claiming benefits. Although he has up-to-date doctor’s certificates his benefits stopped earlier in the year for what appears to be no reason. Therefore he has accumulated a mountain of debts and has not been in the best of health to deal with them. Ultimately he has fallen behind with his rent, owes money to South West Water (SWW), the Council, EDF (electricity), his friends and family and a loan company. He lives on hand-outs from people.
Because Mr H is in such a dark place he has taken to drinking, to blot out his situation, which affects his medication. CASS urged him to contact his GP and gave him contact numbers we have for AA, Addaction etc.
CASS interviewed Mr H and contacted the Benefits Agency. There was no apparent reason for Mr H’s benefits to have been stopped, so after a lengthy conversation his Employment Support Allowance was re-instated, backdated to the date it had stopped. Also we contacted the Food Bank and arranged for a delivery to his house that day. CASS gave Mr H forms for SWW and EDF for him to fill in to apply for assistance with payment. As for his tenancy we strongly recommended he contact the Council, explain the situation, and as soon as his benefits come through, sort out paying off his rent arrears.
Finally, CASS made an appointment for him to attend a meeting with a CAB specialist the following week to discuss his debts.
Mr H became very tearful after speaking with CASS, and could not believe the help and support he had received in only one hour of being with CASS. I shall be in regular contact with him and encourage him to keep all his appointments.
The above case study has been anonymised, and some details have been obscured, to protect the identities of the people involved. Permission has been given by all involved parties for its inclusion here.
If you have similar issues to those reflected in this case, or are working with individuals in similar circumstances, please contact CASS.
If you work with clients like those described here, and are interested in becoming part of Safer Stronger Consortium, please contact Safer Stronger.