Harold's story

caba visited me and helped me complete the form. To be honest, if they hadn't, I think I'd have just thrown it in the bin at that stage.

As far as I knew, I was completely fit and healthy. But I had a hole in my heart that no one knew about, and aged 49, totally out of the blue, I had a stroke. In some ways you could say that I recovered well - I was actually extremely lucky that I survived at all - and I can still walk and so on. But the stroke has resulted in severe problems with my vision.

Initially, I was effectively blind. Then I started being able to see, but there was something wrong. My wife said that when she visited me in hospital, I didn't acknowledge her until she spoke. Then all the medics came to me with pictures of celebrities and politicians - I couldn't recognise a single one of them. Later, they confirmed that the stroke had damaged the part of my brain that deals with facial recognition.

Face blindness - or to give it its proper name, prosopagnosia - is a severe disability. I can't recognise clients, or even my own children in the street. It also means I don't know my own face - recently I said 'after you' to some guy in a shop before I realised I was actually looking in a mirror.

I also have this condition that means I have very little sense of place. It's called topographical agnosia. I have to do everything as part of a routine now, I can only go somewhere if I have been there many times before and don't deviate in any way. In addition, my colour perception has gone, which, for someone who works in design, is a serious problem.

I was very distressed and I had absolutely no idea how to get my head around my situation. It was my wife - she's a chartered accountant - who phoned caba for advice. They were very supportive and encouraging. They suggested some counselling, and I did a bit of research about who might help me. I found a therapist who actually has facial blindness himself, which I thought was exactly what I needed. caba funded a number of sessions. That really helped me start accepting the situation and think about some coping strategies.

It was around that time I realised I would have to apply for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) as well. That's a kind of benefit for people who have a long term health problem or a disability. The form was ridiculous - so complicated, such personal questions - I found it pretty overwhelming. So caba visited and helped me complete it. To be honest, if they hadn't, I think I'd have just thrown it in the bin at that stage.

Then it turned out I had to go to appeal - which again, was incredibly stressful. I just wouldn't have been able to face it on my own. It was at that stage caba said that they would act as my representative. They know what they're doing, they can guide you through what is otherwise a really complex process.

I was successful in my appeal, and now receive the PIP payments. I feel very lucky to have had access to that kind of professional help just when I needed it. caba staff are very experienced. That means that they're realistic about what you can expect and efficient in helping you get where you need to be.

how caba can help

caba supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please:

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Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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