Help with sofa and freezer, on benefits in Chester-le-Street

(Request received from Lee in Chester-le-Street, County Durham) Hi, I was wondering if you could help me with a sofa and freezer. I can not afford to buy them as I’m on benefits now. I have lost a lot of weight since my freezer broke. I wash my clothes in the bath now as my washing machine broke. It cost me £40 to have a man call out he said it wasn’t worth fixing. I don’t have any family that can help me. I don’t know what to do or any one that can give me information. I would be very grateful if you could help me in any way. Kind regards, Lee.

Dear Lee,

Your story really shows the difficulties that many residents face when money is so limited. As is often the case for those who struggle to get by on benefits, it sounds like you were barely able to pay your bills before your freezer stopped working. Now it sounds like it is difficult for you to afford to buy food, yet you still have the high cost of replacing your freezer. I think that there may be some people that can help you track down some assistance to meet all or part of your request.

The Help and Advice Network Durham (HAND) is one partner of the Durham County Council that provides several types of aid to citizens that are in need of emergency assistance. This organisation is a close match to what you are looking for, since they help with many kitchen items as well as Supermarket vouchers for future food purchases. They can help you apply for a Council grant if you appear to be a candidate for an award.

Four Housing is an organisation that can review your benefit payments to ensure that you are receiving the maximum allowable proceeds. They also routinely refer people in need to charities that are a good match for solving their problems.

You can also receive supplemental food assistance from one of the food banks in Durham County. The closest to you would be the County Durham Foodbank at Evangel Church. Regardless of which food pantry you contact, it is important to get a list of referring agencies prior to your visit. Most of these services require that you are already in touch with a charity or government agency so that they can be sure that you are getting the necessary social work to help you make improvements in your situation. Those agencies will actually issue the vouchers you need to obtain donated food on their pickup days.

Finally, I believe that the Durham Christian Partnership could be a source of assistance. The volunteers that provide help believe in doing everything they can to help people deal with small problems that can seem big at first.

With the right support, you can handle just about any problem that you encounter! I hope that your experience in contacting these aid services is a positive experience. We really want to know that your basic needs are being met and that you have been successful in getting the help you need. We would love to hear back from you about your experience. We wish you the best of luck Lee!