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When husband Andrew passed away following a short illness two years ago, 78-year-old Ann Howard freely admits that she didn’t know how to cope or who to turn to.

“I suppose I cut myself off. I adored him so much and I just couldn’t cope for a significant period of time,” Ann says in a very frank and heart-breaking assessment. “Andrew managed all our finances and obviously I lost his pension too which paid most of the bills. What money I did have coming in, I didn’t realise it was for my rent and so I just spent it. I didn’t want to be a burden on my children at the time so I just let it spiral out of control which they tell me off for now.”

With no benefits in place and Ann only receiving a small pension, her rent arrears and other bills had started to climb into the thousands of pounds. With the possibility of Ann losing her bungalow in Northamptonshire growing, neighbourhood coach Andrea Gilchrist set about gaining Ann’s trust to see how she could coach her to be more resilient with her finances.

Andrea said: “It was a gradual process but eventually Ann started opening up to me and I worked with her to do benefit checks, getting a full Housing Benefit payment set up as well as agreeing a payment plan for the shortfall on her account.

“Ann was quite daunted by the thought of tackling her finances but I think once we developed a rapport and she knew I was there to support her, her confidence began to grow and she no longer felt in the dark.”

Different world

Ann, who suffers from a very mild form of Alzheimer’s, started using a budget planner to manage her incomings and outgoings and has made such progress that she was recently given a five year tenancy to provide her with some additional stability.

“Andrea came round every single week for quite a few months and her support has honestly put me in a whole different world – the world of the living,” Ann said.

“She also discovered that a utility company was billing me when I wasn’t even with them anymore so she rang them up, managed to get all the debt wiped as well as a compensation cheque for over £100 which I was absolutely delighted with.

“Losing this bungalow would have broken my heart but now I’m much more confident talking about and dealing with my finances and being up-to-date is a really lovely feeling. I would trust Andrea with my life and I know she is always on the end of the phone or in the nearby area if I ever want a chat or some more advice.”

Need some friendly advice on how to manage your money better? Speak to your neighbourhood coach or visit this area of the website.

*the lady in the photograph is a different Bromford customer and not Ann Howard.

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