Difficulty finding a job
I have recurrent depression and anxiety problems and I am really struggling to find part time paid employment. There is very limited support available locally and I am now in serious danger of losing my home.
My background (I shall try to be as succinct as possible) is that I worked for more than 20 years in the NHS as a registered mental health nurse, and latterly, as a clinical manager. Although I had mental health problems as a teenager and young adult, I was able to work and function to a high capacity for years until 2010 when my marriage ended, and, then in 2012, the service that I worked for was transferred to a different organisation and I felt under incredible stress. After a few episodes of sickness, I was dismissed on ill health grounds in March 2015.
After this, I received income-related ESA and eventually PIP (following an appeal and tribunal). I applied for ill health retirement from the NHS and this was awarded in September 2016.
In August 2017, DWP made the decision that I no longer qualified for income-related ESA, because of my pension income and changed the ESA award to contribution based. Apparently I am still in the support group for ESA, so it is acknowledged that I not able to work. However, contribution based ESA means that I receive no income from this benefit, I no longer qualify for help with mortgage interest payments or council tax support or free prescriptions.
My PIP award finished in June 2017; I reapplied for it as nothing has really changed with my mental health. This was turned down, I appealed and have now been waiting for a tribunal date since I put in my appeal in November 2017.
The result of these changes in my income, means that I have been unable to pay my full mortgage amount since August 2016 and I am in arrears. My mortgage lender have been very kind and understanding but this can only go so far, naturally, and I have a court date regarding my mortgage arrears on 21st March. My mental health recovery worker will be attending with me, and I am praying that they give me some more find to find a job. If they do not, then my home will be repossessed.
So, in my present situation, being sensible and paying into a pension for 20 years seems to have backfired.
I have been actively looking for part time paid employment since September 2017, when I quickly realised that I could not manage financially with my changed income.
I contacted the Job Centre and saw an advisor there, who advised me not to disclose my mental health problems when I apply for jobs. I am now quite restricted as to what I could do and they did not have anything suitable anyway. I have also spoken with Citizens’ Advice and my local mental health recovery team and had 6 sessions with a Recovery Coach purely to plan returning to work, how to go about it, suitable jobs to apply for, etc.
I understand why people with mental health problems are encouraged to find work rather than relying on benefits, and I do want to find something that would give me a connection to the outside world, but, I am at a loss. I have applied for dozens of roles now (mainly admin), have paid money to have my CV checked and I am getting nowhere.
I make mosaic art as a hobby and I am trying to make some money from this by selling on-line (with some success), but this is sporadic and cannot guarantee a regular income unfortunately.
As I do not qualify for income-related ESA, I suspect that I would not qualify for housing benefit either and so I will be homeless (along with my 16 year old son and 3 pets).
I cannot express the stress and worry of this situation. I have invested a lot of time and my pension lump sum money in my home to make it a safe and comfortable place to be (as it was an ex-rental and very run down). I find going out very challenging due to anxiety and low mood and my home is my sanctuary. To lose this is unthinkable and I am trying everything I can to avoid it. However, I am really surprised (although I’m not sure why this is such a surprise to me!), that if the government is reducing benefits to get people back in work, why there is no clear support and help for those who genuinely struggle with their mental health.