Financial Challenges – continuing the story of our refugee family

By Home from Home

Our family arrived in Sheffield with all their worldly possessions in a few suitcases – and with no money.

The parents share a strong commitment to support their children to live healthy and fulfilled lives in England; the husband is highly motivated to work.   However, with no English and little schooling, learning the language is a major challenge; and lack of English a barrier to being able to work safely.   Initially, their only income would be State Benefits. 

The first hurdle was filling in many forms and responding to follow-up questions in a timely manner.  With the help of an interpreter, an application for Universal Credit was submitted the day after the family arrived in Sheffield.  However the amount, set by Government, long before recent rapid inflation in the cost of all household expenditures, could not be paid until the family had been here for 5 weeks.  Funds provided by a charitable trust (through the Diocese) enabled us to give some initial help including setting the family up with household goods and clothing so they would start debt-free.

Another priority was to help the family to budget.  Having lived on meagre handouts in a refugee camp, our family appear to be very good at budgeting, but of course there have been financial challenges.  We took them to supermarkets, showing them how to get the best value for money with loyalty cards; we got the best possible deals for utilities, and found a special rate for broadband for those on Universal Credit.  We showed them how to reduce the cost of energy, turning the boiler down, and closing doors, windows and curtains.

So far they are managing their finances well, and have avoided spiralling into debt…