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Elizabeth & Michael's story

Through the Lightning Reach portal Darren received support from:

Through the Lightning Reach portal Darren received support from:


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Through the Lightning Reach portal Elizabeth & Michael  received support from:


Elizabeth also received further support from:

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Elizabeth & Michael's Story

Torpoint, England

“For somebody not good with computers you really helped…that did a lot of good for me. I have learnt a lot, after talking to you I managed to do the second one [application] on my own. I would recommend it [the portal] to anyone!”

Struggling to find support with limited options 


Elizabeth, 62, supports her husband Michael, 79, a military veteran who served in the Royal Navy for 25 years. While serving, Michael was injured and now suffers from severe tinnitus, which has led to depression and prevented him from working. Elizabeth herself suffered a car accident and still has major back problems.


As Elizabeth is still of working age and could not claim any benefits, they have struggled to find the support they need, whether through the benefits system or from their local council. The pandemic also meant Elizabeth lost her business after losing the contract to her seasonal convenience shop. With no work for the last three years and the impact of the cost of living crisis on their utility and food bills, their savings have run out. Elizabeth and Michael were at a loss of where to turn next for support.

A chance encounter opens the door to Lightning Reach

Elizabeth and Michael's journey to Lightning Reach began when they met a Royal British Legion (RBL) representative on the street. After a brief conversation, Elizabeth later called the Legion and was given a link to the Lightning Reach portal to apply for their grant scheme. Elizabeth set up an account on the portal on Michael's behalf, as he was not able to do so himself due to not having the digital skills.

Overcoming digital barriers to apply for support

After completing Michael’s profile and being matched with support, she started an application to the Royal British Legion (RBL). Elizabeth, who also has limited digital skills and experience herself, found the process daunting at first. 


“It was difficult at the beginning, I wasn't very confident, it was the uploading of documents, I did not know how to get pictures from my phone onto the computer to then upload them.”


Elizabeth reached out for help, and members of the Lightning Reach support team spent time guiding her through the process step-by-step over the phone.


“Thanks to your help I managed to get them [support documents] onto the computer and then upload them to my application. I found it really easy once you [Lighting Reach support team] talked me through it.”


With newfound confidence, Elizabeth went on to apply for further support from the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust (RNBT) through the Lightning Reach portal on her own, which she would have never known about if it wasn't for the portal. This included providing financial evidence by connecting her bank accounts, which with her growing confidence in using the portal she was able to complete. She was also able to apply for RNBT without having to repeat all the information previously provided on the portal.


“This was a lot easier [than the first application] as the documents were already uploaded. I managed to connect our two HSBC accounts without needing any help. I have more confidence now, I would try before asking for help, I would have a go now.” 


Elizabeth said the best part of her experience was the help she received from the Lightning Reach support team. She knows how daunting the digital world can be for people like her, and she appreciated the patience and support she received from the team.


“I think the help you [Lighting Reach support team] gave me was incredible, the patience you showed was great in helping me get through and submitting applications. My experience with Lightning Reach has been 100%.”

Impact on financial wellbeing and digital skills

Elizabeth and Michael's applications to RBL and RNBT were both approved. Within 3 days they received £600 from RBL towards their electricity bill, which has significantly reduced the risk of their utilities being cut off. This has also helped reduce their standing order from £270 to £170 a month. Their RNBT application was also approved very quickly and within 6 days they received £300 in food coupons, enabling them to eat better when they had been significantly cutting back on food.


“They [RBL] are brilliant, once I sent my application they were back to me within 3 days and were really helpful and considerate to my situation.” 

As Elizabeth was keen to grow her digital skills after the experience, through Lightning Reach she also found out about the free Vodafone Digital Skills Helpline run by their partner We Are Digital. She now has a digital skills training session booked in and aims to learn to work online, so she can start to work remotely while caring for Michael from home.

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