Complex case study

Complex Case 2The value of a holistic practice – one client’s story of a debt, employment and housing case with many other complicating factors.

Sometimes we meet clients who require specialist help in several areas of law in order to address complicated and inter-related problems. This is where the value of our holistic, social welfare practice really comes to the fore and we are able to untangle difficult and upsetting predicament for people. A great example of this is the case of Fred.

Fred is 38 and came to us with a complex problem. He had, sadly, been dependent on alcohol for many years and despite the fact that this has caused him many problems, socially and in his health, he had previously managed to hold down a full time job and keep a roof over his head. However, he had become involved in a disciplinary procedure at work where it was alleged he showed signs of alcohol use and had an altercation with a colleague. He had been suspended on full pay while an investigation took place. However, Fred’s standard full pay was not enough for him to cover his rent and bills, since he relied on overtime payments each week in order to cover his outgoings.

As the months went by, the disciplinary procedure did not move forward and Fred got into difficulties financially. He attempted to solve these by borrowing money from an unscrupulous lender and soon found that he owed money to local, unlicensed lenders and recovery companies. He had also amassed rent arrears and was facing eviction from his flat.

We intervened on his behalf and helped him to address his problems, requesting that the employer complete the procedure immediately in order that Fred could either go back to work or access benefits, but at least he would be able to move on. We also helped him to deal with his rent arrears by negotiating with the housing association in question. Finally, we addressed his debt issues in order to help him stabilise his finances and extract himself from the difficulties with the lenders who were, by this time, bullying him.

Fred lost his job, but did manage to save his home and to negotiate the benefits system successfully. The same solicitor at the law Centre helped Fred to access the Samaritans and specialist addiction provision, since he had confided in her that he was feeling suicidal and desperate. Only by helping Fred address every aspect of his difficulties could some stability be brought to his situation. Fred was so grateful for the help he received and was moved to write a thank you letter to our solicitor in which he wrote:

‘I was given an appointment within two days. My solicitor not only gave me advice but also acted according to that advice without delay. I imagine as a non profit establishment you will have many cases like my own and it is through Cumbria Law Centre that many others, no doubt, can sleep at night. From switchboard to Manager, I thank you all.’