The number of homeless in this area appears to be growing, but I never dreamed that one day I, a pensioner, would come very close to joining them.
I have the caring staff at the Seaview Centre to thank for my rescue. Seaview is an organisation in St Leonards that works with the homeless and insecurely homed.
Some months ago, having worked consistently all his life, my husband had a breakdown. The signs had been there for a while but we had failed to recognise them. Suddenly, he lost his health, his job and his income. Worse was to follow.
Due to his particular working experiences he did not even qualify for sick pay, unemployment benefit nor, to date, any other source of income. We eventually faced a situation where we had no income at all apart from my pension, which did not even cover our rent.
At this point a very dear relative stepped in with a sum of money which, together with all our available savings, enabled us to move to a smaller place, jettisoning most of our possessions in the process.
But this still left us with insufficient money to live on. But did anyone care?
Several organisations made sympathetic noises, offering telephone numbers, activities, counselling, etc. but at the end of the day we were still left with no financial help whatsoever. All this was happening against the background of a doctors’ surgery that was being ‘streamlined’.
We saw four or five different doctors in several different locations in as many months. Following a brain scan my husband is still awaiting an appointment with a consultant (maybe in about five months’ time) which may lead to him being given financial aid.
Naively, I would never have believed that two honest, hard-working adults could ever have found themselves in this situation in this country, through no deliberate fault of their own. Yes, I had heard various tales from some of my homeless acquaintances over the years but had always been of the opinion that somehow there must have been something they were not telling me. Now I know better. Only those who have actually faced homelessness can know the depths of confusion and misery in which you find yourself.
But to return to our experience with Seaview: someone eventually suggested that we apply for Pension Credit, something unknown to us. After months of fruitless to-ing and fro-ing, I was, quite frankly, too traumatised and depressed to make yet another effort, and this was when a very caring lady at Seaview took over. To cut a long story short, having already received great kindness from staff there, this one lady spent literally hours and days on the telephone, contacting the necessary authorities on our behalf. I could never have summoned the necessary energy for all that she did for us but - SHE WAS SUCCESSFUL!
Oh, the relief that flooded over me when finally we learned that we were getting financial help; the joy of finally being helped out of a deep dark pit. Seaview staff have saved my sanity.
On September 30, Seaview will be putting on an evening of entertainment at The Stade to raise awareness of homelessness. There will be music and entertainment and then an opportunity to spend the night in a cardboard box!!
This is an informing and fund raising activity, so please, if you have the opportunity, go along find out a little bit more.
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