Tanya's story | Education Support Partnership

Tanya's story

Tanya, not her real name, and her husband are both primary school teachers who fell into severe financial difficulty and had to sell their house very quickly at a massive loss. They moved into rented accommodation with their three children but soon after were given just eight weeks’ notice to move. They had no money for a deposit on another home. We gave them the deposit for their next house and the first month’s rent.

We had just started to claw things back after having to sell our house at a massive loss due to major financial difficulties. We’d moved into a rented house and were just getting settled with our three children girls aged ten, eight and five, when the landlord decided to sell the house and gave us just eight weeks’ notice to leave. We had no money set aside so couldn’t afford the deposit on a new place. So we had to move in with my parents who are wonderful but live in a three-bedroom standard house so five of us were squashed in there.

It was a very traumatic and difficult time but in the midst of it all I suddenly remembered I’d read an article in the Guardian about the Education Support Partnership. It talked about a teacher who’d been in a similar situation and it was just like reading about us. The piece said teachers could get grants. However we’d felt out of luck for so long we just assumed we wouldn’t be eligible.

Relief

But I thought, “D’you know what? I’m going to ring!” So I rang the helpline and got all the information I needed but I got a lot more because the woman on the end of the phone was really wonderful and made me realise there was much more to the helpline than grants. It offers support and counselling too which teachers really need right now as the job has become so stressful - hardly any of the teachers I qualified with are still teaching. The counsellor told me, ‘We’re here to help and we’re happy to listen. We understand about education.’ She had such a lovely manner on the phone. It was a huge relief just to talk to someone who understood and didn’t judge us.

She told us who to contact about grants so we rang and were talked through it in a straightforward, kind, non-judgmental way. We were awarded a month’s rent in advance and a deposit so we could move into our own place.

Not just money

It wasn’t just the money though. Psychologically this help gave us such a huge boost. We’d felt so down about everything. In a profession such as teaching there’s a bit of an expectation that you can’t possibly be struggling as it’s quite a well-paid job. We felt ashamed and embarrassed but it was amazing to discover this fund was there for people working in education. ‘Where does this money come from?’ I asked when applying for our grant. I was told a lot of it came from donations made by retired teachers who left money in their will or wanted to donate. I am so incredibly grateful to them.

When you have money worries it affects everything you do. You can’t concentrate on your job and you lose some of your social life as teachers tend to mix with other teachers and hearing about friends’ exotic holidays, new extensions to their houses and other big spending items made it hard to see them as we couldn’t join in these conversations. People don’t realise how isolating debt and money problems are.

We got into difficulty because we made a decision when we had children that one of us would be at home with them while they were little. But it’s very hard to make one teacher’s salary stretch to support a whole family. I look at friends who’ve stayed in the profession after having kids and seen them move up the career and property ladder and there have been times we wondered if we did the right thing. I know now we did. Would I regret not having posh holidays? No. Would I regret spending so much time with my kids when they were little? Definitely not!

We felt so much calmer last summer when it was all sorted for us by the Education Support Partnership. Michael got a new job as a head and I now have a supply job. It wasn’t just getting the money that helped but knowing we’d been accepted for a grant. Such a good thing happening for us was a wonderful morale boost. Made us feel our luck had turned and that’s a really lovely feeling.

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.