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Nicole's story

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Nicole's Story

Romford, England

“It's good to know there is support out there and you’re not isolated or put in a box”

When Nicole, a working mum of two found herself facing financial difficulties, a friend recommended Lightning Reach. Through the portal, Nicole was able to receive a grant within 6 days, ensuring that she could “keep things going” for her family.

Shifting situation


Throughout 2022, Nicole had been going through changes to her situation and was struggling to manage living costs in the face of the cost of living crisis. Fast and vigorous changes to food costs and energy bills were stretching her monthly budget to breaking point. Despite working full-time and earning a salary, which had previously enabled her to live comfortably, in July, with insufficient funds in her account, the bank returned her mortgage payment.


She had never sought financial support before but when a friend sent her the link to Lightning Reach, she decided to see if there was any help out there for someone in her situation.


“It took me by surprise as I don't normally apply for things like this, I’d never heard of it before and I took that opportunity. At the end of the day, it was really helpful.”


A quick and easy start


Creating her account took a matter of 15 minutes – done in front of the TV! The short questionnaire asks simple questions about your basic information and financial situation in order to match you with the full amount of support you’re eligible for.


“In terms of questions and screens it's easy to navigate through, it's not long-winded or tedious. It's not convoluted, it’s very straightforward to be honest.”


During this process, the portal links securely to your bank to ensure that any grant given can be awarded immediately.


“It made me very secure as it took me away from the website to the secure area of my bank website and I could sign in from there.”


Having completed the application process, Nicole received an immediate response with potential matches and the next day she got an email from Judith Smith, the Chief Executive of one of the grant-giving organisations, Teaching Staff Trust.


“It felt like a more personal approach. That was really helpful for me, as I was able to communicate with Judith back and forth on email. It gives more reassurance if you hear from an individual who is looking over your case that you can liaise with.”


Support when you need it


That same month, Nicole received the grant from Teaching Staff Trust to support her with utilities and the mortgage payment.


“It relieved my stress, I was getting really stressed out about how I am going to pay. It reduced the number of days that I had to wait to top up the account to make sure the payment was made. The grant really helped me in that particular month to get me through.”

For Judith at Teaching Staff Trust, the portal has far-reaching positive outcomes even beyond the ability to quickly get support to those that need it: 


“I’m really excited by the potential of the portal to facilitate collaboration between charities, to enable us to combine resources and top up support for individuals, and to ensure that we’re supporting as many people as possible. The portal could also help with changing attitudes and reduce the stigma around applying for support, and enable people to get the full range of support they need from multiple organisations if necessary.”

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