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Gemma ‘eternally grateful’ after regaining control of her life

A woman whose life fell apart after her husband died has praised the work of her local Trust-funded, charity, saying it helped save her and get her back on her feet.

Gemma* felt like she was ‘sinking’ after losing her husband, and her grasp on her finances crumbled.

She said: “I had no money at all, and I was living on a credit card. All of a sudden, I was sinking mentally, emotionally – I remember the fear of that, as someone who’s always worked and always had money. I’d never been really broke.

“I had no bathroom, no kitchen, no oil in the tank. I was on my own. My husband died. I couldn’t even cope. When someone dies – your husband dies – every single thing dies with him. Every dream, every plan, everything you were going to do.

“I approached my GP, I was fast-tracked, and I was diagnosed with all different kinds of depression, ADHD, all sorts of things that at 52 is quite extraordinary.”

Gemma was eventually referred to Wis£rmoney, a partnership programme delivered by Navigate Charity, Encompass South West and Mind in Somerset, which is, in turn, funded by British Gas Energy Trust. Help is provided through Navigate’s tailored programme of one-to-one support, to alleviate existing debt worries and start looking ahead to rebuilding lives.

Gemma needed help disputing an electricity bill as the previous occupier had submitted an incorrect meter reading when leaving the property. It had left Gemma with a bill of £778 for electricity which she hadn’t used.

Gemma added: “It was clear they were gathering information before I’d even realised because they seemed to know, just by talking and were very good at finding out what I needed and anticipated it before I’d even thought about it.

“I had a bill of £778 for my electricity, which I couldn’t possibly pay.  So, they got involved, got rid of that and that was the start.

“When I was on my feet, they did the spreadsheet of all my outgoings, of how much they’d helped me save.

When I was out of the woods, they helped straight away thinking about ‘have you thought about volunteering’ to help me get back out in the world.

“It has helped me enormously. Between the two of them, they’ve helped knit me back together, got me in a straight line, on my two feet.”

Gemma now feels ‘stabilised’, is in credit worth £200 for electricity, has cleared her credit card debt and is on track with her council tax and other bills. Now she’s back on her feet, she is planning to raise money for the charity to ‘show thanks’ to the organisation that has helped her to regain control.

She said: “Every little bit of my life now is organised through Direct Debits. I’m not in debt and I realise I am one of the lucky ones to have people to coach me through it all. They have brought me single handedly to where I am. I am now in control of my life. I’m eternally forever grateful.”

*Gemma is not her real name.