Many of us face daily challenges regarding health, finances, job security, housing and caring responsibilities.
It may seem that the problems you’re facing with your bills, your landlord, your childcare or your job are unsolvable.
But there are solutions from the government, our communities, and the businesses in our lives. We can help you find the support you need right now.
For a range of financial and consumer advice, you can contact Citizens Advice in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, or Scotland. They have a national Adviceline you can call on 03444 111 444 (text relay: 03444 111 445).
Work through your finances
Using a budget tool to redo your household budget could be useful. Remember that while you may be spending more on groceries and heating bills, you may save money by not spending on things like transport and socialising. Consider this when looking at your budget.
Find out what help you might be entitled to
The government offers a range of measures to support people financially. Check benefits and financial support you can get whether you’re employed, on a low income or not in work, a carer or have additional needs.
Debt and money advice varies across the UK, so make sure you find the appropriate service for your nation.
Find out if you’re entitled to any benefits. You might be surprised to find out what you’re eligible for, even if you have savings. Our page on welfare benefits is a good starting point. Use the free EntitledTo online benefits calculator to see what you can claim.
Keep connected and look after yourself
Don't keep it in – talk to family or friends if you can.
Look after your sleep, your diet, and other basics. Try to avoid drinking excessively and if you are a smoker, try to give up or cut down – it will help you financially and improve your physical and mental health.
Look at what is available in your community
There may be formal and informal support available in your community. For example:
- food banks - visit the Trussell Trust to find your nearest food bank and how to get a referral to it
- free school meals - if you have children who are entitled to free school meals, take them – your school will know about how to use this service
- your local council may also know of community support groups in your area
Check your insurance policies
Life cover, critical illness cover, mortgage insurance and even home insurance sometimes offer legal advice or cover that could help.
If you have a mortgage or other major commitment, speak to your lenders as early as possible if you’re having difficulty with repayments. They may be able to help, for example, by extending the mortgage term or asking you to repay what you owe at a later date.
Think about groups you might be a member of
Are you a trade union member, or does your sector have a benevolent charity? Charities such as Hospitality Action, The Charity for Civil Servants or Lighthouse Club for construction workers offer financial help to current and former workers in need of support. Use the Grants Search on Turn2Us to find out what you could claim.
Beware of scams
Use a reputable source such as the government website or organisations linked above. Never respond to unsolicited messages (texts, calls or emails) that ask for your personal or financial information.
Being unemployed or getting less work than usual
It can be very hard if your working circumstances change – whether you’re let go, given fewer shifts, or your work drops if you are self-employed. Start by checking whether you’re entitled to extra money. Read the section above about the help you might be entitled to. Don’t assume you won’t be eligible for anything – you might be surprised about what you can claim.
If you’ve been made redundant or given fewer shifts, try and keep in touch with colleagues. Demand may increase again, and you find yourself re-employed in future. Keeping those social connections with your colleagues can be important if you live independently.
If you are used to a very physical job, try and keep up the exercise. A sudden change can quickly affect your mood.
For information about your rights at work, visit Acas.
If you are self-employed, try contacting your normal networks about work opportunities or see if you can connect with others locally through business forums. It’s an uncertain time, but your skills will be needed again.
The more we adjust to living and working differently, the more employers look for staff. Think about how your skills transfer – and if you’re able, consider temporarily doing something else.
Remember, you can always consider applying for Universal Credit if you're on a low income, out of work, or unable to work.
While many of us find ourselves spending more time at home, living in poor housing or having difficulties paying our mortgage or rent can be doubly hard.
Ask your lender about a payment holiday if you have a mortgage and your income is reduced. This allows you to stop or reduce your mortgage repayments temporarily.
If you are a tenant struggling to pay your rent, speak to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you’re finding it hard to pay and ask if they’ll give you extra time.
Find out more about your rights as a homeowner or tenant:
- Citizens Advice or Shelter in England and Wales
- Citizens Advice Scotland or Shelter Scotland
- Advice NI or Housing Advice NI in Northern Ireland
Keep calm, check your options, seek advice and work through your possibilities - and you will come up with a plan. There are helplines available and people willing to support you.
If you need to talk confidentially, you can call Samaritans on 0116 123 at any time.