Pennington, Greater London
Struggling with rising costs and searching for support
Rebecca and her family had been struggling with debt, as rising costs and bills had led her not being able to afford her outgoings, leading her to take out loans and credit cards to afford her everyday costs. She had been working in a school four days a week while also studying in hope of getting a better paid job as a Counsellor for young people, but has also had to put some of her income towards her studies.
Working in the public sector meant her wages were not high, and she was finding most of her money going out of her account on the day her bills were due - meaning she had little leftover to feed and support her family the rest of the month.
Rebecca initially searched on the internet looking for support for students, but struggled to find any support available to her by searching herself online.
“I was searching the internet looking for support, searching for student grants or support on study equipment, but there was nothing there.”
Finding support from their bank led to Lightning Reach
Luckily, Rebecca had a mortgage with TSB who had recently partnered with Lightning Reach to help their customers find additional sources of support during the cost of living crisis. She visited the TSB app, initially just to look at the possibility of changing her mortgage payments to interest only to help with her high outgoings.
While on the TSB app, a new button highlighting cost of living support caught Rebecca’s attention, which mentioned support available on the Lightning Reach portal. Rebecca decided to click this link to Lightning Reach to find out more, and decided to sign up to see what support was available to her.
“It appears like they do look after you (the bank). The people I spoke to were all very friendly and helpful. It (the portal) was something I wasn't expecting to come across, but I signed up straight away when seeing the link, it didn't take me a great deal of time.”
After signing up and answering a few simple questions about her circumstances, Rebecca discovered she was eligible to apply for a grant available on the portal from the Teaching Staff Trust (TST) through her work at a secondary school, a charity she had not heard of before discovering them on the portal. She also received several other matches for additional sources of support she could look at applying for.
“I was excited to see some potential support. It was reassuring seeing something that supports people working in teaching - dedicated support rather than shooting in the dark.”
Rebecca found the process of completing her application for the TST through the Lightning Reach portal very quick and simple compared to other application forms.
“It’s amazing, really simple to go through, and I’ve highly recommended it. There was a minimum amount of further information needed, and open banking was much easier and less time consuming than downloading a load of pdf bank statements to send. It was also a fantastic experience dealing with TST and very personal.”
“Lightning Reach was much smoother (than other applications) all things considered. It felt like a central holding place in that you don’t need to keep re-entering your information. It was completely fuss free, very streamlined and very supportive. It was lovely going onto the TSB app and getting something so quickly via Lightning Reach.”
Rebecca has since received approximately £1000 in vouchers towards her family’s living costs, which has hugely helped improve living standards for her and her children. Rebecca was able to use the majority of these vouchers towards her food costs and pet food, which meant her family could afford to eat better. She also used some vouchers towards household items that she would otherwise be unable to afford. She has since been recommending the portal to her friends who are teachers and to those in her school.
“It’s helped relieve stress in a tight financial situation. I now know when my tax credits come in I can use these towards different bills. I could pay for my daughter’s prom ticket and still know I have a buffer to buy food. It’s also had an impact on family time as we’ve been able to go have a picnic or bbq on the beach with the family, an extra experience as we would have otherwise probably just had to stay in or just get the basics.”
Since receiving support from TST Rebecca has returned to the Lighting Reach portal to discover further support. She has now received an additional £450 in support from the Education Support Partnership to help towards her studies.
"Thank you so much for being such a great help, I hope that TSB push the link to a more prominent position on their app, the fact that I have been able to benefit has not only helped my own children, but has also allowed me to be there for all those in my care, as I can continue to work at the school and complete my counselling course."