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Meet Tom. With our support he’s changing his life for the better.

My client Tom* is in his 50s and lives alone in a rented property. Typical of many of Citizens Advice clients, Tom has multiple (sometimes hidden) vulnerabilities. But he is also a great example of how clients can start to overcome their difficulties with consistent, one-to-one support.

Marian Anghileri is a specialist money adviser at Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell.

Tom’s childhood and home life were difficult. He spent some time in foster care. His education was often interrupted. He has criminal convictions but has managed to obtain and maintain employment. Unfortunately in more recent times mental and physical ill health has limited his ability to work.

Tom does not have a supportive network of friends or family. This is partly because he works hard to avoid unhealthy friendships that could lead to bad decision-making.

When he first came to us he was defensive and lacked confidence.

His finances were a mess. His paperwork was chaotic and incomplete; he had spiralling rent and water arrears, council tax liabilities and other debts; significantly, he had always found appointments challenging.

Over the last three years, we have been working regularly with Tom and he has taken giant leaps
forward. Our aims have always been to work at a pace he can cope with and empower him to manage his own affairs.

A vital step towards taking responsibility

Soon after our first interview he came to an appointment with a file having tried to organise his paperwork – a true sign of progress. The value of this kind of ‘soft’ outcome is hard to quantify but we know it’s a vital step towards a client taking responsibility.

Tom’s accommodation is now secure. He has paid his rent arrears, is up to date with council tax, and paying his other household bills as they come in. He receives all the benefits he is entitled to and we are exploring solutions for his debts. Particularly gratifying is that he is considering a return to work

I think we can be proud of Tom’s progress.

As a Money Advice Caseworker I often wonder how I would cope if I had to ‘walk a mile’ in my client’s shoes. I hope I would have Tom’s strength of character and resilience.

Read Marian’s first blog: Cost of living is cause of significant extra anxiety
How to contact us: Get Advice

*Not his real name.

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