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Fair Frome case study – Tom’s story

Fair Frome exists to help the most disadvantaged individuals and families in the town. To many, Frome will appear to be a thriving place with low unemployment and a burgeoning cultural and social scene. However this masks a different reality for many people in the town who are unwaged or on zero hour contracts and paying high rents and fees in the private sector.

With the help of the editor of the Frome Times, this is the second in a series of case studies featuring some of the people living in Frome who are struggling.

Fair Frome say, “We can’t emphasis enough that these are real people, although names have been changed and inconsequential details have been added to protect their identity. We don’t present them to you to ask for your sympathy, they are all proud people who want to make their own way, all we want to do is make you aware of the issues facing some of your neighbours…….or perhaps even members of your family. Today we focus on a young Frome man who found himself in crisis and the help that was available to him.”

Tom’s story 

Tom’s parents moved away from Frome to a smaller home and the privately rented accommodation he was staying in gave him notice to leave, as the landlord could get higher rent from someone not on housing benefit, which is now capped at a level in Frome below the market level. This understandably makes tenants on benefits less attractive to private landlords. Since the last budget, housing benefit support for young people has become even harder to obtain. The new announcement in the budget this year of an increase in the minimum wage does not apply to under 25 year olds  and so, unable to earn enough or fund accommodation through benefits, many young people in Frome find themselves in this situation. Luckily Tom had heard that Routes at Mendip YMCA might help, so he visited them in Palmer Street in Frome in to see if they could.

Tom himself on talking about his experience says, “Routes /Mendip YMCA and the Fair Frome Food Bank have been a massive help, I don’t know what I’d do without them. When I first saw them I was losing my flat as the landlord didn’t want someone on housing benefit living there as they could get more rent from someone else. They gave me resettlement support, helped me with my benefits.

“When I started work I was doing really well, but not long after I was laid off. I had to make a claim for universal credit, this took over 6 weeks to get paid, and even then I didn’t get paid rent for the first two weeks of my claim. Routes supported me with food from the Fair Frome Food Bank while I was waiting, and somewhere to go to get job help. I volunteered and because of this experience, got work in a café.  I’m now working and earning, I still volunteer in Routes when I can on my days off.”

Talking about his future, Tom says, “I still feel worried about having to go on benefits again as I don’t think I’d manage not being paid for that long again.”

It’s easy to think that Tom was fortunate that he knew about Routes who are one of the referrers to the Fair Frome Food Bank. However for many young people who for reasons largely beyond their own control are unaware of such services, the future is even tougher. Mendip YMCA has helped 300 young people who have found themselves homeless or threatened with homelessness in the past year alone.

Fair Frome provides practical support for people in need through the Frome Food Bank, Community Dining and other practical projects. We also campaign against the causes of poverty and inequality.

If you want to support us in our work to assist people like Tom and sign up to donate an amount however small every month, please take a look at our Fair Frome Page on Local Giving  at  https://localgiving.com/charity/fairfrome.

If you would like more information about the Mendip YMCA contact:  admin@mendipymca.org.uk or visit Routes in Palmer Street Frome.