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Horton Housing started supporting Saidya in August 2019. After helping her achieve many of her goals, it was planned for her to be discharged from our STAY at Home Bradford service.

But when lockdown was imposed, Saidya’s language barrier proved to cause her further difficulties, as she was unable to access any other services, so it was decided to keep support in place.

This has, in turn, presented its own challenges. On previous visits, our support worker Bhavna would use non-verbal communication and be able to explain bills, payments, tasks to her, but it has been extremely difficult over the phone. Consent for phone calls was much easier when together, but impossible over the phone, as Saidya is unable to understand what she is consenting to.

Unfortunately, Saidya has been too nervous to leave her flat, due to the virus and not understanding safety measures. This has resulted in her 5-year-old son becoming very isolated and agitated, which has been evident when video calls have taken place. The only contact he has had is with Bhavna and a friend of Saidya’s. Bhavna has needed to speak to him for extended periods to provide emotional support and make him feel at ease. Bhavna has worked with Saidya so she can understand where to go in open spaces and how to stay safe whilst outside, and after 10 weeks, she has managed to take her son out for a short trip.

Saidya has been sending Bhavna photos of all her mail, sometimes including letters from six months ago. There have been debt agency letters, which included large amounts for gas, electric and water. Bhavna completed the Yorkshire Water Community Trust form and obtained as much evidence as possible to send with the application to ask for assistance to clear the debt. A complaint was submitted to British Gas for repeatedly sending bills, but having no-one available to discuss this with over the phone. Bhavna made a home visit to obtain consent letter signatures to deal with debt agencies, so the payment plans could be set up online.

During this period, Saidya’s immigration status in the UK expired, so her Universal Credit benefits, including her rent, stopped. Her housing provider rang to state her rent had not been paid, and she received a letter explaining a Notice of Seeking Possession would be issued if rent unpaid. Saidya could not understand the reason for non-payment and could not explain what the Job Centre interpreter had told her.

Bhavna was able to gain permission to log into her Universal Credit account and to obtain consent to speak on her behalf to resolve the issue. Several To-Do tasks on the Universal Credit account were completed over a period of time to get benefits in place again. Saidya had started an ESOL class at Bradford College before lockdown. They wrote to take her off the course as she had not been completing the course online. Bhavna wrote to the College, as no one available over phone, to explain Saidya did not know how to use a laptop and also she did not realise she had to complete the course online.

Bhavna reported issues with Saidya’s boiler, which was then repaired the following day. As Saidya has been very isolated and does not have any other form of support, she has been very happy with the video calls she has been receiving from Bhavna.