Brenda's story | Education Support Partnership

Brenda's story

Brenda, 60, (not her real name) became an ‘accidental teacher’ after many years working in the Civil Service. When she had to have a mastectomy she fell into financial difficulties we helped her out with a grant to pay arrears on her gas, electricity and phone bill and to help pay her mortgage.

I was a late starter in teaching. I didn’t enter it till I was well into my forties. I had been planning to go into nursing but didn’t have the necessary support network around me. So I did a year as a healthcare assistant juggling as best I could as I had a young son. When it became impossible to juggle home with work I decided to take an office job with normal hours for a couple of years until my son started school, by which time I hoped life would be easier and I could go into nursing later. So I joined the Civil Service and that couple of years turned into 23 years during which time I had two more children! Part of my job in the service was staff training and development which I loved, so when a friend suggested I try lecturing I leapt at the chance.

I did a bit of teaching part time at a local college near my home in the Midlands then I moved into secondary teaching full time and stayed there. I went into teaching because I loved seeing students grow. That wonderful light bulb moment when you knew they’d ‘got’ it and finally understood something they’d been struggling with.

Financial support

However after 16 years I was finding teaching exhausting so I’d decided to leave and set up my own business as a trainer, but still needed an income whilst I got established so I took a part time position as a first aid trainer and assessor. But within weeks of starting everything went pear shaped. I had to have a mastectomy and due to other health complications I was off work for eight months. I had no sick pay as I’d just left my teaching job. I couldn’t cover my mortgage interest payments, day-to-day bills utilities and food. So I went to my union, NASUWT which was very supportive, and someone there suggested contacting the Education Support Partnership which I’d never heard of. I found out they help you even if you’ve left teaching or education work. So long as you’ve been employed at some point in education, you can apply for help.

I applied and was given a grant of £1,000 to pay my gas, electricity and phone bill arrears and the interest on my mortgage for three months. In total the Education Support Partnership paid out around £3,000. It made a huge difference, kept the wolves at bay and was such a relief when I was already under a great deal of pressure. I’m now working again as a part time lecturer at my local university.

Difficult to ask

I found it very difficult to ask for help as I’d never had to before. I thought, how much do you ask for? I was worried about asking for too much or too little. But the amount I was granted was enough to get me back on my feet. Teaching is my passion which is why I’ve gone back to it even though I’m 60 now.

I would definitely recommend the Education Support Partnership to anyone in difficulty. I truly do not know what I would’ve done without their help and support. I felt the world had come crashing down around me and when you’re ill, the last thing you need is financial worries too. I’m a single parent with a son still at home and I also have a grandson and a daughter at uni. Having faced severe hardship though has done me good, it’s helped me re-evaluate everything and I’m much better at budgeting now. I feel ready to face the world again. 

If you face difficulty as I did it’s important to let people know and ask for help. There is support out there.

How we can help you

Our confidential grants service is here to help you manage your financial and money worries to get you back on track when you are struggling.

If you are working in or retired from the education sector and are suffering financial problems caused by unemployment, ill health, sudden life events, bereavement or a personal injury we may be able to offer support.

Please visit our grants page to find out more and apply.