Paul's story

“Thanks to the support I received from social prescribing and the Centre’s advice service, I feel more financially secure now and better about life in general”

Themes: Social welfare advice; social prescribing.

Paul is a well-educated and charming man with many interests.  He can recite every one of Shakespeare’s sonnets with a twinkle in his eye but, he has had to deal with some very difficult life situations in recent times.

After many years working as an English teacher in Thailand, Paul found himself on the wrong end of the Thai immigration authorities.  Despite an honest mistake due to the Covid pandemic, he was put into a detention centre where the treatment was harsh and a “nightmare”.

“I saw two very different sides of Thailand”, he told us “a beautiful land of kind and generous people and inhumane treatment at the hand of the Thai authorities.”  Paul was initially supported by his brother and facilitated to leave Thailand but the situation left him traumatised and homeless without income or necessary documents.

He was housed by an old friend for a few months but, with both of them on limited finance, it was not a long term solution.  Paul was made homeless and spent some time living in unsuitable, low-cost hotels and hostels using up his diminishing money.

Things began to improve when Paul was supported by Mission Practice, a GP surgery in Bethnal Green where he was referred to an experienced social prescriber.  She supported him in a number of ways when he was at a low ebb.  This included a referral to the Bromley by Bow Centre advice team for support with pension arrears.

At the Centre, advice manager Rashal took on the case. Paul was supported to submit a state pension application and, after a long wait, he was awarded a significant amount of backdated state pension.  Paul’s state pension is small so, Rashal also supported him to successfully apply for pension credit to top up his income.  An application for attendance allowance has also been made.  Paul is now permanently housed in the borough of Westminster.

“I feel much more financially secure now and this makes me feel better about life in general”, concludes Paul, who is now free to deepen his studies into the Shroud of Turin, a subject he finds fascinating, and to enjoy his passion for Shakespeare and playing chess.