The Difference We Make
BHCAC's Annual Report 2020, available here
This case study is only one example which provides insight into our work with an individual affected by COVID-19 who experienced multiple disadvantages.
Leanna’s Story- June 2020
Leanna is a non-European national in her thirties with limited English-speaking skills, she moved to the UK with her two young children in 2016 to live with her husband who was already living in the UK.
Leanna’s husband was the sole financial provider in the household and worked full time in a central London hotel as a chef. Although working full-time Leanna’s husband was still on a low income having to claim Universal Credit, Council Tax Support and Child Benefit to support the family. Leanna was first referred to BHCAC when her husband passed away in early April 2020 after contracting Covid-19. As Leanna was financially reliant on her husband, she was worried about how she would provide for her children going forward as her late husband was not only the sole provider for the household, but he managed the bills and bank accounts.
Working on a weekly basis with Leanna and after a full assessment, it became apparent Leanna was receiving food parcel support from Brent Council because she had no recourse to public funds as she entered the UK on a spouse visa. After an initial assessment with Leanna BHCAC Benefits Advisor proceeded by assisting her in informing all relevant agencies of her husband's death, however, Leanna did not know the login details of the Universal Credit account held by her late husband which delayed this process. Leanna had already taken the first step in dealing with her immigration status through a solicitor and submitted a new visa application that would give her access to public funds. However, this was reliant on the client having a visa meeting. The meeting was delayed due to Covid-19.
As Leanna awaited her visa appointment with no access to funds BHCAC Benefits Advisor assisted her by applying for Local Welfare Assistance, which resulted in Leanna receiving a one-off emergency payment of £500.
BHCAC Benefits Advisor was also able to establish that Leanna was eligible to apply for Bereavement Support and Funeral Support payments and assisted her in applying for the same. Leanna received £3,500 in a one-off Bereavement Support Payment and £350 a month going forward and is currently awaiting the outcome of the Funeral Support application.
In addition to the above, BHCAC Benefits Advisor contacted the Child Benefit Office to inform them that Leanna’s husband has sadly passed away and asked that the Child Benefit claim be transferred to Leanna’s name which was completed, and Leanna received a confirmation that she will receive £35 a week in Child Benefit.
Despite the efforts and successes made on this case, Leanna is still unable to meet the living costs as the new monthly income of £501.66 is simply not enough to cover the costs of rent at £1,100 a month plus bills and food. In light of the fact that the children are British citizens the local authority has an obligation to support them, the case has been referred to the Brent Council Social Services which is working with Leanna to assess what support they may be able to offer.
Outcome- project specific
Leanna was grateful to receive dedicated support and advice on multiple issues from BHCAC and this is what she said to us: “I simply could not do it without your help, you were there to support me when I needed it the most. God only knows what would happen to me and my children…thank you from bottom of my heart”. Leanna reported increased knowledge about Welfare Benefit Rights and support available, secured entitlements and feels more confident to liaise with government and other support agencies to prevent further problems.
Welfare Advice Project funded by Brent Advice Fund (Brent Council) part of Brent Advice Partnership.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Community Advice Centre
Charity Registration Number: 1085815