Penny viewed a couple of properties she found on the HomeSwapper website, then saw that Sovereign had a one-bedroom bungalow available in Steventon, Abingdon. “When they said I could downsize to it, I was relieved I wouldn’t have to pay the extra money – but reality hit. I felt so lucky to get a house, but I felt sad and frightened too.”
“Sovereign helped me so much – they gave me financial advice, and took me through each stage of the move. My Housing Officer was brilliant, doing practical things like organising the van and also giving me emotional support.”
Penny feels she’s had to start again, but is trying to look on the change positively. “It’s been physically and emotionally exhausting – like part of my life has been taken away. The new house wasn’t to the standard of my previous home, but I’ve decided to just get on with it. Everyone is lovely here, they all came to say hello. I’m deciding how to decorate my house, and planning my garden, and I’m starting up a local Neighbourhood Watch.
“I’m worried that some people are still burying their head in the sand, thinking if they ignore what’s happening nothing will change. But it will – if you can’t pay your rent, you’ll lose your property, so it’s better to choose to do something. Find out how it will affect you, and decide what’s best to do. Ask for help – it’s there if you ask.”
Sovereign is helping residents prepare for and cope with the changes resulting from welfare reform in a number of ways. These include:
- providing general information about the changes to benefits
- contacting any household that may be affected, helping them investigate their options and providing advice
- offering a more flexible range of rent payment choices
- making it easier to exchange or transfer to a smaller home
- helping people find ways to manage their money and boost their income.