Centre support helps mother of four start again

The Wai Yin Centre in Manchester has helped a family to begin a new life, through the HMRC Support and Advice programme and wider support.

Funded by HMRC, our network community partners are upskilling learners to independently use HMRC’s digital services while offering support in understanding and completing interactions.

When Li (name changed for anonymity) came to Wai Yin Centre in Manchester, she had nothing. Referred by the Domestic Violence/Homeless Unit, Li had recently left her home situation along with her four children, including newborn twins. With no income or benefits to her name, she wasn’t sure where to start.

Jenny, an experienced staff member at Wai Yin, sat and talked to Li about her circumstances and what the next steps might be to gain that first financial foothold. Liaising with Li’s caseworker, Jenny realised that she didn’t even know her National Insurance number as her husband had always held that information.

Jenny says “Together, we spoke to HMRC and retrieved her NI number. Then they advised us that the best and quickest way forward was to reapply for Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit in her name as her husband was still claiming for this.

“Next, we opened a bank account for the mother. Luckily with a letter from the Domestic Violence Unit this happened instantly with no hassle. We then helped make a claim for Universal Credit (which would incorporate the Child Tax Credit) and filled out a new Child Benefit application form, adding in the twins for the first time. Fantastically, this also made her eligible for a £500 Surestart grant – money which she has used to buy essentials for her young twins.”

Li also faced the additional barrier of having English as a second language – something that Wai Yin are well placed to help with.

Jenny and the Wai Yin Centre have been part of the HMRC programme for 6 years, providing support to local people who come with a range of problems. Jenny says “Although people don’t usually walk through the door specifically asking for advice on HMRC issues, we often help them as part of the whole package of support that we offer. Through talking to people over a cup of tea, we can realise that someone may be entitled to a tax credit they didn’t know about – something which could have a significant impact on their finances.

“The HMRC funding has allowed us to be able to offer this support and over the years help so many residents like Li. Especially through the pandemic it’s been vital to be able to assist families who have found themselves in such dire situations.” Jenny, Wai Yin Centre

“Last week Li’s social worker contacted us, to thank us for swiftly helping with this family and asked if she could refer another urgent family for similar help.”

Li still comes into the Wai Yin Centre occasionally for some English support or just for a cup of tea. She told Jenny she has now moved out of the hotel she was initially placed in and has found a home in a temporary house. With her children and her newfound financial independence Li is now looking forward to rebuilding her life.