A Hyde home has given Melanie and her family the financial stability and security they desperately needed, after years of uncertainty living in private rented accommodation.
When her relationship with the father of her 14-year-old daughter ended, Melanie had to move out of their Royal British Legion accommodation (her ex was in the Army). She had no choice but to find private rented accommodation, despite having no money.
Melanie, who has lived in Maidstone for 17 years, was forced to move four times in six years, juggling four jobs and racking up thousands of pounds in debt, as she struggled to make ends meet, while paying expensive rent and tenancy fees each time she moved.
Melanie met a new partner and they have three-year-old daughter. The family continued to struggle financially because she and her partner both work (Melanie is part-time nursery worker and he is a forklift driver), so they were not entitled to any benefits. This also meant, despite sometimes having just £10 a week for food, they could not be referred to a foodbank. They also could not afford school uniform and Christmas presents were donated by the Salvation Army.
The family’s situation was becoming desperate but fortunately, after six years on the waiting list, they finally qualified for social housing and moved into their Hyde home in November 2018. With rent just over half of what she was paying before, Melanie says the family is much better-off and no longer has to rely on friends and loans for essentials. But she adds that the benefits are not just financial.
“It’s the security our Hyde home gives us,” she explains. “It’s great to know that we won’t have to move every year and have to pay tenancy fees each time. We also don’t have to constantly be on the lookout for another place to live and the children don’t have to change schools again. It’s going to take us another three to four years to get out of debt, but I know we can do it.
“We are so grateful to Hyde. We love our home – it’s perfect. There is a real sense of community where we live: there are lots of children the same age as ours and we have supportive neighbours. Plus, we are five minutes away from the centre of Maidstone and near my daughters’ nursery and school. I feel like I have won the lottery living here. We’re so happy.”
Melanie says the improved financial situation means she can now afford the occasional treat for the children.
“My eldest daughter has a dairy allergy and now I can afford to buy her dairy-free cheese for her school lunches. She is also obsessed with Harry Potter and I was able to pay for her to join the school trip to the Harry Potter Studio tour this summer. When I told her I’d paid the trip deposit last Christmas, she said it was the best Christmas present ever.”