Belle first rang us just before Christmas last year in floods of tears – she had no food left to eat.
I took a foodbox round that same afternoon. Belle was calm but fragile, her eyes empty of hope. We agreed to meet again the next day to see how else we could help her.
Her story was heartbreaking. She had recently fled her abusive partner who had run up thousands of pounds of debt in her name. She had escaped on public transport with little more than the clothes she stood up in and found a room to rent in another town.
Her landlord was abusing her too - invading her room, demanding to see her bank statements, not providing any tenancy agreement. We needed to get her out of there fast.
We introduced Belle to a mental health professional for support with the awful trauma she had been through. And we negotiated with the local social housing provider who found her a new home in a safe area. We provided essentials such as bedding, crockery and pans.
In spite of everything, Belle had managed to hold down her job. But since her move she now had a daily commute of five hours. So we bought her a bike which halved her journey time.
Then we started on the long process of helping her with her debts, applying for a Debt Relief Order which would wipe the slate clean.
A year on, for the first time in her life, Belle has real hope for the future.
She says, “When I came to REACH, I thought I’d lost myself for good. I didn’t think I could fix what was broken – I’d look in the mirror and an empty shell stared back with no life or fight left. I felt useless. I was so exhausted all the time, drained beyond what I thought possible, and I never thought I would feel I could smile again.
“But you all helped pump life back into a tired heart. I genuinely feel you’ve kept me alive. I am so much less stressed – I can do things now that I couldn’t do a year ago because you’ve reassured me and given me much more self-belief.
“I will always see all of you as friends and family, fairy godmothers and godfathers so to speak. You kept me from falling apart – and you’ve helped me to find my smile again. I catch myself just at ease, smiling at home for no reason.
“And I’ve actually got a Christmas I can look forward to – it will be my best ever Christmas. Thank you.”
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