Through the Lightning Reach portal Kim received support from:
“One of the main benefits of the portal is you put your information in once, and can keep this updated, and it provides the opportunity to see what help is out there in many areas - all personalised to the details you’ve input and the types of help you need. It’s reassuring to see support is available not just for me, but for everyone, especially Veterans.”
Support with rising bills and the cost of living
Women’s Royal Navy Veteran Kim was injured during her time in the Armed Forces. She was left with a degenerative condition and now has mobility issues, and was recently diagnosed with CPTSD so could no longer work. Kim has faced additional challenges being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and part of Lord Etherton’s LGBT Veterans Review.
In the past few years Kim has moved into disabled Veterans’ housing, and now has a bungalow that helps with her everyday challenges and needs. However, Kim has been struggling to afford soaring energy bills due to the rising cost of living, as she has to run several items at home that aid her disability, but which consume large amounts of energy.
Kim has kept active by studying with the Open University, and she is currently doing a masters degree after winning a scholarship. The course structure helps with her mental health, but has been finding it challenging studying whilst worrying about her bills.
“I was under a huge amount of stress because of my bills. I couldn’t understand how they could be so high”
Kim had applied for support before, but found the process could pry too much and be difficult to access support.
“In some cases it can feel intrusive when applying for help. This barrier is a reason a lot of people don’t apply for grants.”
Being reassured that help is out there
Luckily, Kim found out about the Lightning Reach portal through Facebook. She was initially sceptical about using the portal, wary about scams.
However, after contacting the Lightning Reach team to answer a few areas of concern, as well as contacting the Royal British Legion (RBL), who have partnered with Lightning Reach to deliver support through the portal, to check it was genuine, Kim was reassured.
Kim was able to easily apply for an Everyday Needs Grant with the RBL by filling out her details once and submitting any evidence needed through the portal. She was also able to match to other grants she may be eligible for and social tariffs to save money on bills.
“I felt very confident using the portal. As an LGBTQ+ Veteran, we have been made to feel wary of organisations offering support. Veterans are taught to have a stiff upper lip. So we tend to fend for ourselves even when it’s hard.”
After seeing on the portal all the different support options out there, Kim has been encouraging others facing similar situations to her to apply, as she believes this could prevent some of her colleagues from getting into difficult situations.
“This (the portal) is an excellent place for all Veterans to discover what help may be available from military and civilian charities.”
Kim was given a £200 per month voucher to help pay towards her energy costs from the RBL. This reduced Kim’s stress in worrying about how to heat her home enough to help with her disability and is helping her afford her living costs.
“I was really impressed with how quickly the RBL came back and sorted things out. It has helped me think clearer, and it’s been great to see what help is out there and to share this with my fellow Veterans who may also be struggling. It has really helped me in reducing my stress, both mentally and physically.”