The Welcome Centre has absolutely been my lifeline. If it hadn't been here, I’d have had to go begging.
After a spell in prison Ciaran applied for Jobseeker’s Allowance and received benefits every two weeks whilst looking for work. But, when he was rehoused by the council, he had to reapply for his benefits with the Universal Credit. Because of this, Ciaran was told he’d have to wait 6 weeks for his first payment.
I managed to get an advance from the benefits agency (DWP) of £200 but that took time and didn’t last because I was just moving into my flat. I had nothing.
Ciaran contacted another local charity, Fusion and they referred him to The Welcome Centre. We provided him with food, toiletries and support whilst he waited over 10 weeks for his payments.
I was really struggling. I'd just moved into a flat and had no cooking or washing facilities. And I didn’t even have gas or electric at first. I got the storage heaters fixed, but it cost £5 a night just to run them, so I had to turn them off.
Ciaran is trying to find work, but he’s finding it difficult after prison. He'd planned to come out, get a flat and find his feet. He's surviving on just £317 a month, and once he's paid his rent, council tax and utilities there's not much left.
Finding my feet has been like trying on every pair of shoes in a shop, but none of them fit. I always turn up for my appointments. I do what’s asked of me. I do all the job searches they ask and I’ve never been sanctioned but despite my best efforts, I'm still in this mess. The support from The Welcome Centre has helped me make sense of it all.