I am a single mum. I have three daughters, the youngest is 10 – she has severe learning difficulties and autism. She’s wonderful, but can’t be left on her own for a minute. I work part-time as a chartered accountant when my daughters are at school.
I first got in touch with CABA by responding to a general email they sent out. I was struggling with a number of things at the time, so was really happy when they called me back. I was allocated a support officer, who I have to say, has been absolutely brilliant. One great thing about the way CABA works is that you’re not passed around the houses. I didn’t have to explain my situation over and over again. Instead, I was able to build a relationship with my officer and she got a real sense of us as a family.
The first issue I discussed was that, as my daughter’s main carer, I never got a break. My support officer researched all the possibilities and found that we were entitled to some respite care from the local authority.
But that was just the beginning. CABA have done so much for us as a family. After they helped with the respite issue, my support officer sat down with me and looked at our situation – the whole picture. We had recently had my daughters’ application for Disability Living Allowance rejected.
I can’t say whether I would ever have found the time and energy to appeal this decision on my own. Because of our situation, my time is scarce, so when I do have spare time I make sure I spend it with my older daughters. But my support officer did so much of the leg work for me. And they have the expertise – they worded the appeal and so on.
CABA have specialists in benefits, in caring, in occupational therapy – they know what they’re doing. So with a lot of help from my support officer, I did appeal. And we got the decision reversed just before we went to tribunal. Not only did it mean that we got several thousand pounds in backdated benefit, but it also meant that that I was able to access the government’s Motability scheme on my daughter’s behalf and we could get a desperately needed new car. It’s like every time I hit a brick-wall, someone at CABA has the specialist knowledge to help me get around it.
CABA have also helped fund an iPad as my daughter was responding well to the one she was occasionally allowed to use at school. This has really increased her interactivity. They also helped us to fund a specially adapted bike that enables me to safely cycle her around so that we can go out on our bikes as a family. They’ve done so much for us – including the little things like at Christmas, they gave me some money to get each of my daughters Christmas presents – they had new boots, a new duvet cover – all kinds of bits and pieces that they needed and wanted.
The difference between CABA and other charities is that you’re not just a transaction. They stay in touch and see how you are doing. Last year, out of the blue they sent me a £10 gift voucher for the garden centre. I know that’s a small thing but I can’t tell you how much it means to feel you’re being kept in mind and know that there’s a team of people who care how you are and how you’re managing.