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Anyone who has been there will tell you that being a parent is one of the toughest jobs there is. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year – there’s no ‘clocking off.’ There’s always something to do – cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, helping with homework, and that’s before you take into account all the emotional support you have to offer – not mentioning being the referee when sibling disputes kick off! Just thinking about it makes you tired, doesn’t it?
Now imagine bringing up five young children on your own.
That’s exactly the situation that Stephen found himself in when circumstances beyond his control meant that he was given sole responsibility to look after his five children.
Stephen from Lichfield has had a pretty rough time of it. Finding himself homeless, he was referred to Edgeworth House where he received much needed support to help build his confidence and get him back on his feet.
Once he was ready to move on from the supported accommodation, Stephen moved into his Bromford home in June 2014. He doesn’t like talking about how he came to look after his children as it’s not something he wants the world to know about, but needless to say having the five little ones living with him is a massive responsibility.
Although he no longer lived in supported accommodation, Stephen still needed all the help he could get to make sure that he kept the roof over the heads of his family. At the time, Bromford offered a starting well service to customers when they moved into their new home. This service helped customers get off on the right foot with their tenancy; helping with things like setting up utility accounts and ensuring customers understand their responsibilities.
Stephen made the most of the help and advice on offer but needed more specialist help with managing his finances so he started working really closely with Ruth Burley, one of Bromford’s money advisors.
It soon became clear that Stephen was affected by the benefit cap and his income would be reduced again once further changes came into effect. As they worked though his finances, Stephen realised that the only way to ensure that he could afford to stay in his home was to find work.
With advice and support from Katie Hunter, a Bromford skills coach, Stephen has worked hard to find work that fits around the needs of his young family. He’s been through his fair share of ups and downs but now he has two cleaning jobs. He works 16 hours a week which means he can claim working tax credits and is therefore exempt from the benefit cap.
It’s been a long road, but Stephen and the children are all flourishing and happy in the knowledge that they have a safe and secure family home for them to grow together in.