Freeing Up Saturday

For months I’ve been puzzling over my personal budget. This is the money I get each month from Social Services to pay for the support I need to meet my basic care needs. The amount’s based on an assessment and has to be spent as agreed in my support plan.

This plan includes overnight care, daily domestic help and a certain number of hours support each week to go out and about and access the community. Last year I also got a one-off contingency payment to provide support when I’m ill or on annual leave and don’t have the help of my Access to Work support worker.

I manage my personal budget, keep track of hours and submit timesheets to a payroll company. For ages I’ve been puzzled because the amount I’ve been receiving hasn’t been enough to cover the hours I’m supposed to have. It’s meant I’ve had to spend many weekends sitting on my bed because I haven’t had the resources to afford a support worker.

A couple of months ago, with the help of my social worker I eventually got to bottom of the problem. I hadn’t been getting the full amount I should’ve been because of an error that’d been masked by the contingency payment I’d had in the middle of the year.

Social Services were quick to correct this and I’m now receiving the full amount. This has made a huge difference, and most dramatically it’s meant I’ve been able to get six hours’ support on Saturdays. So instead of sitting on my bed all day I’ve been able to go out and enjoy my weekends.

Previously if I’d wanted to go out, I’d have had to negotiate this with my friends, days or weeks in advance. It’s not just that I’ll be safer and more independent having these six hours, it’s also that I’ll be able to make decisions spontaneously.

Yesterday this meant getting a bit of lunch at a local café, popping into a neighbourhood improvement consultation to campaign for more drop kerbs, doing a bit of food shopping and going to a free open-air film screening in a local park.

There are still many hours each week that aren’t covered by my personal budget. But things certainly feel like they’re coming together and weekends are now more full of wonder than worry.

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