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Darren's story

Through the Lightning Reach portal Darren received support from:

Through the Lightning Reach portal Darren received support from:


Through the Lightning Reach portal Darren received support from:


Darren also received further support from:

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Darren's Story

Montrose, Scotland

Struggles with rising energy bills and living costs led to a mental health decline


Veteran Darren was injured while serving in the RAF during the first Gulf War, which left him with a disability and unable to work. Four years ago Darren started struggling more with his mental health to the point of feeling suicidal, but was able to get mental health support. 


“I found it very difficult. I felt like I got chucked on the scrap heap when I left the forces. There was nobody to help you search for anything (any support).”


More recently, Darren had begun struggling again due to the rising cost of living making it more difficult to support himself and his two children. He was told there would be a sudden unexpected increase in his energy costs, along with increases to his other bills, which led to him getting into debt with his energy company, and struggling to afford food and having to go to food banks. 


“They wanted to put my bills up to £300pm, and I owed £500 in gas and electricity. Being in debt triggered my PTSD - it was scary.”

Receiving support from the Royal British Legion

When searching for support, Darren came across the Everyday Needs Grant available from the Royal British Legion (RBL) to help those struggling during the cost of living crisis. As RBL have partnered with Lightning Reach to administer this grant, Darren was prompted to sign up and apply through the portal. He spoke with someone on the phone to help him through the process, and was easily able to submit his application to RBL. 


“The Lightning Reach portal was fantastic. It was so much easier for me to not have to go through 100s of questions over a phone call, which would make me feel more stressed. It was so easy! When filling out forms previously they require so much information, but here there was nothing complicated - I couldn’t believe how simple and easy it was.”


Within a week of submitting his application through the portal, Poppy Scotland (RBL’s branch in Scotland) had given him a call about support they could offer, and put a caseworker in touch with him.


“As soon as I spoke to someone I was put at ease, the people were so helpful. Everything they have done has been amazing.”


Darren is now receiving £200 a month in energy vouchers from RBL until towards the end of the year to help him pay his bills. This has helped him get out of debt with his energy company, and his energy account is now in credit for the first time. RBL has also been able to provide Darren support with his disability, helping him to see a physical therapist. They also sent an occupational therapist to visit him, and he soon will be receiving a profile bed and a scooter to help him get around more independently.

Getting matched to many different forms of support for his family

Darren and his family have managed to access a wide range of other support they discovered through the Lightning Reach portal. This includes support available from his local council, Angus Council, that he did not know existed before he found it on the portal. His council was also able to send out an Occupational Therapist, who is helping to provide him with some equipment for his home to make living with his disability easier and make his home more accessible. 


Darren also saw that support was available from his bank TSB through the portal and was able to get an arranged overdraft, which he did not need to pay any fees to use. He felt reassured by the assistance provided by the TSB branch manager and this helped to provide him with some breathing space.

Darren was further able to receive a heated blanket from OVO Energy despite being initially afraid to contact them due to his energy debt.

“I was always scared to phone them as I was in debt but when I saw them on the portal, I got in touch.”


Darren is now also claiming disability payments from Social Security Scotland after also discovering this support through the portal. After never applying for this before, Darren is now receiving PiP, and will be moving to Adult Disability Payments over the next few years. He also completed a benefits check (provided by Inbest and integrated into the portal) and found it very helpful in understanding the benefits he could be entitled to. 


“Without the Lightning Reach portal I wouldn’t have known anything about this (support available) and all the different benefits available. I couldn’t believe how many matches I had. I didn’t know anything about support available from Angus Council and discretionary benefits etc. And when you want to apply for other support, your information is already there, it was just a few clicks to apply for other support. I can now go on the portal anytime I want, and go on about once a month to check support.”


“The portal is amazing, there is so much information. Without the portal, I would have never had help like this. There was so much support on there no one had told me about, which is fantastic. I just wish when I left the forces there was something like the Lightning Reach portal. I’ve mentioned it to lots of friends who it could help.”


Darren’s wife was also able to find support available to her from The Care Workers’ Charity, who were able to help her get a Blue Light Card so she could access discounts. Darren has also been able to help his Dad to get signed up to use the portal, who is now receiving a visit every week from RBL, who also bring him a food hamper, thanks to being able to find this support for him through the portal. 


“It’s made my life so much easier. I panicked a lot and always worried about being in debt. I didn't like to ask for help as thought it was begging, but discovered it's not. The portal has given me a new lease of life. It’s really made a big improvement and impact on my life. I just wish we had this years ago, it's the best thing for someone like me.”

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