Tina lives with her husband and two children. Two years ago she suffered a serious brain haemorrhage. The consequences of her illness, which was completely unexpected, were devastating.
In order to care for Tina and the children her husband had to leave his job. But when he tried to claim benefits he was told that he wasn't entitled and would have to wait 10-16 weeks before they would be given any money at all. They said he had made himself voluntarily unemployed. This advice was wrong.
For four months the family had no income at all except for a small amount of Child Benefit and Tax Credit. They didn't receive Housing Benefit, although entitled to it, and their rent wasn't being paid. They sunk deeper and deeper into debt.
The family were struggling to survive on less than £50 a week. Through social services they were put in touch with the Family Support Unit (FSU) who helped with food parcels and Home Start, who were able to offer some support.
Tina's situation has improved now. Her husband is back in work and they still receive support from Home Start, but the debt is still a major concern and the family still has some way to go before it's back on track.
Courtesy of Joseph Rowntree Foundation www.jrf.org.uk