We know some residents struggle to afford to even simply keep their lights on. Take a look at some of the vital work that happens to help some of our most vulnerable tenants.
This Challenge Poverty Week (11 – 17 October), we wanted to lift the curtain on some of the things that go on to help our residents that you may not know about.
If you'd like to know more about any of these services, just get in touch, especially if you're a Manchester City Council tenant and would like support.
Sheila got £6,000 in backdated Universal Credit payments after Sam in our Tenancy Support Team came to her aid.
She’d been sitting in the dark with no heating. Sam said:
“When I first met Sheila, I realised she was not on the correct income due to her illness, mental health and learning disability. When speaking with her, I learnt she was living on the lowest amount of Universal Credit possible, as well as having large deductions taken.
“She was living on £50 a week. She would sit in the dark with no heating on as she couldn’t afford to top up her gas or electricity and would hardly eat. She was also receiving letters for historic debt from years ago.
“I helped Sheila to get her Universal Credit claim assessed, which went to a tribunal hearing. She won this and the lost income was backdated - £6,000 was paid out to her. This then put her in the support group of Universal Credit, upping her monthly payments.
“I arranged payment plans for the existing debt, which she can now afford. Her life has turned around significantly. She has a beautiful home, with electricity and heating, which is affordable to her now. She's also bought new furniture for her home from the backdated money.
“If Sheila hadn’t come to us for support, I dread to think where she would have ended up.”
Amanda completely disappeared. No one could find her for months.
She was terrified after suffering financial, emotional and physical abuse. Here’s Lynette’s story of how she tried to find and help her…
“I first met Amanda when she was referred to the Tenancy Support Team for help,” said Lynette. “She had issues with hoarding and keeping her home in a good condition. Previously, she had been living in temporary accommodation and struggled with her mental health.
“Soon after, police and Adult Services raised concerns for Amanda after she reported a theft and financial abuse. She abandoned the flat and disappeared. All agencies attempted to locate her.
"After a number of months, Amanda was found living in an abandoned shop by a support worker from Grit Street Aid, who provide roadside help to rough sleepers. She revealed financial, emotional and physical abuse which left her too scared to even return to collect any belongings.
“With support from all agencies, Amanda was provided with regular food parcels and temporary accommodation via Greater Manchester Housing First, which helps people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so.
“I registered Amanda on Manchester Move and, due to the circumstances, managed to get her new accommodation. I supported her to return to her flat to sort through her belongings. She is currently waiting to move into her new flat, which should happen in the next week.
“New items have already been sourced and Northwards’ partners including Master Moves and CPD have donated furniture to help her settle in. We’ll be giving her ongoing support. Her wellbeing has already improved massively knowing that she is safe and can have a fresh start.”
After living on the streets, John found a home but fell massively into debt.
Helping former rough sleepers to keep their tenancy is a vital part of preventing homelessness. Here’s how Nicki from our Tenancy Support Team helped him to get back on track.
"Along with Shelter, I supported John from the start of his tenancy,” said Nicki. “He came to Northwards through the GM Homes Partnership and settled into his flat. He was always keen to work, but mainly found opportunities that weren't very stable. We gave him advice regarding benefits and rent.
“Unfortunately, John fell into rent arrears and these escalated to over £1,000 at one stage due to him being in and out of employment and receiving a number of sanctions on his Universal Credit claim.
“We've been helping John in a trauma informed way, speaking with him about the situation rather than immediately sending letters. I was also able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment of £1,540. This cleared his arrears, giving him a fresh start without fear of eviction.
“I’m still supporting John with any issues he has and giving him advice around getting into more secure work.”