I was familiar with ABS through my profession, but I never considered I would ever need their support. As an architectural assistant in a practice for over 15 years I had a solid career. However, after just two years of starting a new position at a different organisation I was made redundant and found it difficult to find new work.
The longer I had to rely on Universal Credit the more frantic and worried I became about how I was going to support my wife and two daughters. I began spiralling into debt and my mental health continued to decline, ultimately resulting in a breakdown and hospitalisation.
At about the same time I was in hospital my wife Camila*, who is a registered nurse, had an accident while out with our girls and shattered her shoulder. She required multiple surgeries, continuous physiotherapy and could not move her hand above her waist. This meant she was unable to work, and our family became completely reliant on income from Universal Credit which barely covered necessities such as food. Our complicated situation also meant that Universal Credit would continually miss payments and at times we had nothing.
ABS has been here for my family from the beginning providing a lifeline with financial assistance, as well as invaluable emotional support and advice. From my initial conversation with Aidan [Welfare Officer] my mind was put at ease and I was reassured that we would be able to survive. He made me feel supported, and calm and was clear with the support ABS could offer.
When we began to have trouble with Universal Credit, ABS was there to not only to provide immediate financial support for essential items such as food, but also gave us access to a welfare benefits advisor who has been helping us with the appeals process and has enabled us to claim the [governmental] support we need.
I hate to imagine what would have happened if ABS was not there for me and my family. I would definitely be homeless and at my lowest I was seriously considering suicide.
Then my wife found work and now, although it is still extremely difficult and has taken some getting used to as I have had to start from the bottom, I am fortunate to have been able to find some part time work and am happy as long as my family are supported. I am keeping my options open to try to get back into full time employment.