I first heard about the Noah’s Ark Centre from a friend who’d been helped when she was out of work and in a lot of debt. I too wasn’t working due to mild anxiety and depression brought on by a relationship breakdown and family loss. I ended up living alone for the first time ever and my mental health wasn’t what it once was.
I bought myself a cell phone, which I’d never used before and that’s when things started to go downhill. I was on Universal Credit, they announced they were to put the whole months payment (including my rent) into my bank account at the same time. I felt that wasn’t a good idea as I didn’t know whether I could trust myself with all that money after years of being terrible with overspending.
I had no rent arrears until the phone arrived. I soon started opening shopping accounts: Amazon was the one I used the most. It was because of the first lockdown, I felt lonely and boredom set in. I was lost, didn’t have much food and no family around to help when I needed them. Just before I got paid I’d fill my Amazon basket with products and then on the morning my money went in to my bank I’d pay on my phone for everything.
There was hardly anything left and important bills hadn’t been paid. I was dipping in to the rent money and there wasn’t enough for a months shopping (I thought I’ll worry about that later). This went on for about 2 years: going without food or clothes, I felt I wasn’t living, just existing. My mental health wasn’t getting any better and physical health was deteriorating. I felt I was losing my physical strength and sense of self worth.
I then arrived at Noah’s Ark and they helped me put a Debt Relief Order in place to deal with my debts. I then attended a course with them learning how to budget my money. How to prioritise my important bills: TV licence, council tax, rent, all with direct debits. Then using to cash to pay for everything else not my bank cards or phone.
I am now debt free and in full control of my banking and spending. I am £100 a month better off which means I can afford a full months shopping (I go to Lidl and Aldi and budget shop). I also attended a cooking course with Noah’s Ark, learning how to cook on a budget and batch cook meals to freeze and last all month. It was a lot of fun and I made new friends. There was even a quiz and I won a blender, which made me feel good about myself.
Andrew, Kelly & Lesley (they run Noah’s Ark) have become good friends. They will go the extra mile to help people. When courses finished they put a leaving party on for us, there was a buffet and certificate presentation. It was an emotional moment for me because I wasn’t the person I was when I first arrived at Noah’s Ark. I knew I’d changed, I felt very calm and confident. My mental health had improved and I was longer existing in life.
I was starting to enjoy the little things knowing my fridge was full and all my bills were paid. I am now feeling ready to look for part time work and the future looks a lot brighter. I closed all the shopping apps on my phone and got rid of Sky TV and internet. The roof over my head and food in the cupboards is much more important to me.
I’ll always be grateful to Noah’s Ark and all the staff for they really did bring the light back in to my life. For me the experience of Noah’s Ark and meeting you all, was about being around inspiring, positive, compassionate people in a society where there’s a lot of snobbery and hostility towards people that are vulnerable. It was nice not to be talked down to and judged. Thank you.