Gerard's story

“I was literally staring into the abyss when I came to the Centre, but the advice and support I’ve been given has brought light back into my life”

Themes: benefits and financial advice; energy advice

Gerard is a warm and charming man with and fascinating story to tell. A passionate socialist, Gerard has lived in Belgium and Sweden for many years with his wife and two sons as well as the UK. He worked as a university lecturer teaching English and even taught the Swedish Royal Family.

His beloved wife Yvonne died 13 years ago which was the beginning of a difficult time for Gerard. He had promised to support his mother-in-law and came back to England to become her carer until she died, despite his own physical disabilities. By this time, Gerard had no resources and had reached rock bottom. He had debt and universal credit income of less than £50 per week and was taken to hospital after passing out from lack of food. Gerard experienced a breakdown and spent some time recovering in hospital before trying to rebuild his life.

Without adequate support he soon found himself struggling. He had no electricity for two months, no phone or Wi-Fi and insufficient income or food. He couldn’t find organisations to help him and he was eventually signposted to the Centre.

He arrived one day during lockdown desperate for help and was introduced to Advice Worker, Hasina who worked with Gerard to help turn things around. She organised reconnection of his electricity, facilitated installation of a smart meter and eventually moved his bills to quarterly with a much improved tariff.

Together they discovered that Gerard had been charged for a previous tenant’s phone and Wi-Fi and applied for a full refund of £250. A small grant application was also successful.

Hasina supported Gerard to reapply for a Personal Independence Payment at a higher rate for those with mobility issues and has now supported a Universal Credit application for a higher rate based on limited capability. This is expected to result in a significant increase in Gerard’s monthly income.

Gerard said he was in a dark place when he approached the Centre and that the support he received has helped bring light back into his life.

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