Nicola's story | Education Support

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Nicola's story

Nicola, a teaching assistant at a primary school and single parent, had her life thrown into chaos when she was told she owed money due to an over payment of Housing Benefit. This threw her into confusion and extreme distress. We gave her a grant to help tide her over.

I know I’m not the only person in a very difficult financial situation. It’s a story I’m hearing all the time. I listen to people within my community where I live and it feels hard to know I’m in the same position as many of them.

When I was told I had been overpaid Housing Benefit I sought advice to find out what I could do about it. I had no idea if this was my doing, what caused it or if the amount was wrong. It seems I may have been overpaid after my son reached 18 and my benefit entitlements changed.

But it was incredibly scary. I’m already on a very low income. I take home only £1,076 a month and from that I have to find £600 for rent of a two-bedroom flat, buy food and pay all essential bills. I had no idea how I could start to pay off such a huge sum on such a low income.

Getting our help

Feeling very downhearted one day I spilled out my concerns to colleague – something I wouldn’t normally do. But that’s how desperate I was feeling. I only wanted to offload to her but she told me she’d heard of a charity called the Education Support Partnership which helped her friend who was in a similar situation to mine.

I got in touch immediately and I’m so glad I did. I was awarded an amount to help me out and it made a difference not just to my situation but my whole wellbeing too. It had felt as if I was about to pop from the huge stress of being told I owed so much money.

My appreciation is not just about the grant I received but I’m also profoundly grateful to the Grants Caseworker for the support and advice he gave me and to all the retired teachers and lecturers who have made this possible by making a donation each month to the Education Support Partnership.


I have arranged to repay £20 a month for the overpayment of the housing benefit. That doesn’t leave me much money at the end of every week but I know it has to be repaid. The grant I was awarded by the Education Support Partnership of £500 has been a big help. I’m immensely grateful.

I’ve been a teaching assistant for five years and worked full time since my son was four as his father isn’t around. I love my work. I love seeing the children every day. I think my learning support skills are making an important difference for the younger generation within my community. That’s very satisfying even though the income is very low. I am a respectable citizen and member of my community trying to stay hopeful and positive in what sometimes feel like a failing system.

The Education Support Partnership gave me much-needed breathing space at a time when my problems threatened to overwhelm me. I’ll always be very grateful to them for that.

How we can help you

Our confidential grants service is here to help you manage your financial and money worries to get you back on track when you are struggling.

If you are working in or retired from the education sector and are suffering financial problems caused by unemployment, ill health, sudden life events, bereavement or a personal injury we may be able to offer support.

Please visit our grants page to find out more and apply.