From surviving to thriving, how a retired Fenland couple had their lives turned around

11 August 2016

Fenland Older People’s Outreach Services provides support to help local people make the most of living independently. It is a free service available to people aged 65 and over and anyone living in sheltered housing in Fenland.

Centra, Circle Housing’s care and support enterprise, provides this support in partnership Fenland District Council, and works with other organisations in the area.

A couple who recently benefitted from the service are Richard and Anna Belton who contacted Centra after a referral from a friend.

Richard was a lollipop pop man for the local school for over 20 years and is well-known in the community. However following his retirement, he and Anna found the transition difficult to manage.  Anna said: “We had very little income and were struggling to pay the bills. We both have health and mobility issues and life was becoming increasingly difficult. We felt helpless.”

“Following our self-referral, Centra came to visit within a few days and carried out an assessment to determine what support we needed. We were assigned a support coordinator called Claire who visited regularly and spoke to us about the various options available.”

The couple, who are private homeowners, had no central heating in their property which was affecting their health and leading to the property’s decline. Centra referred them to the Healthy Homes Project - a new affordable warmth project funded by the British Gas Energy Trust, administrated by Charis Grants and managed by Peterborough Environment City Trust.

They were accepted for a grant to have gas central heating installed in the property and new insulation fitted. Healthy Homes also assessed their current utility providers and managed to save them £60 a month on electric bills.

Centra also identified that the couple may qualify for attendance allowance; a benefit for severely disabled people aged 65 or over who need help with personal care. They supported them through the application process which proved successful meaning that they were able maximise their income with an additional £700 a month.

Anna said: “The service has been absolutely wonderful right from the word go, I couldn’t ask for anything more. For several years we had just been surviving month to month, we weren’t able to do anything and we didn’t feel anyone cared for us.” 

“They (Centra) visited us very quickly, got things moving for us and they still keep in contact to see how we are getting on. We cannot thank them enough for all their support and for how they have improved our lives.”

As a direct result of Centra’s support Richard and Anna benefitted from:

  • £700 additional income per month (including exemption for council tax)
  • New rail grabs fitted in their home (from Age UK)
  • Free gas central heating installed in their property and improved insulation
  • A significant reduction in utility bills

For more information about Fenland Older People’s Outreach Services and to qualify for our free service please call: 0800 111 6447 or 0300 040 349 and ask for Fenland Older People Outreach Services, or email directly at: fenland.support@circle.org.uk

Local agencies looking to find out more about the service can contact Lisa Smart Project Manager for Fenland Older People Outreach Services at: Lisa.smart@circle.org.uk

The service prides itself on links into sheltered housing and extra care schemes within Fenland.