A trusted friend for Catherine

Catherine* is 62 and has worked in horticulture for most of her life. She is currently unable to work due to severe anxiety because of a traumatic event in her past.

She was referred by a local project that provides therapeutic support to people with mental health problems. She finds it very difficult to trust anyone she doesn’t already know and becomes extremely anxious to the point that she isn’t able to function. The project she attends has kindly facilitated our meetings as this is somewhere that she feels safe.

Catherine has worked hard and saved all her life with the intention of one day purchasing her own home. Unfortunately, due to her circumstances, she has been forced to use her savings to supplement her income which is currently contribution-based employment and support allowance. Due to having these savings she doesn’t qualify for any means-tested benefits.

She did make enquiries a few years ago about claiming personal independence payment but was advised that because she wasn’t registered with a GP and didn’t have a formal diagnosis, the claim would be refused. Catherine feels unable to engage with the medical profession; the reason is linked to her past trauma. She tries to manage her condition using herbal remedies with the very occasional visits to a private specialist when she finds she is really struggling. She will then purchase any recommended medication by post in as large a quantity as she can.

She lives in a small fourth floor flat which she is desperate to leave, however the rent is cheap and she is constantly worrying that her savings will not last until she can claim her state pension. She previously lived in the ground floor flat of the property, which she much preferred because it was bigger and more open plan, but the landlord decided to sell this flat and so she had to move.  She feels very isolated there, without easy access to outside space. She does have an allotment, which she tends regularly, as she finds this helps her to cope.

Due to her level of savings, Perennial is not providing Catherine with any financial assistance, however she has a range of issues where we are slowly providing support.

  • We have contacted her utility provider to resolve an issue regarding two of her bills last year
  • We have made a start on an on-line application to join the local housing register
  • We have provided her with information to re-consider claiming PIP, which we will assist with if she decides to proceed
  • Catherine has limited IT knowledge and although she has a tablet she is a bit scared of it and has no WIFI access at home. We have agreed that we will go to a local café which has free WIFI and we’ll look at some basic tuition on getting onto the internet and accessing e-mails – both of which she will need to do for the housing register.

Catherine struggles to sleep at night because she becomes so anxious and this results in her not being able to deal with anything until the afternoon. Even then, the amount she is able to cope with at any one time is limited and she can become overwhelmed and so anxious that her mental health deteriorates. We are making regular visits, dealing with one thing at a time, and this approach seems to be working, with slow progress being made.

*Name has been changed to protect client confidentiality and photo is posed by a model.


If you know of someone who needs help, please contact Perennial today.