Our free helpline provides confidential, emotional support 365 days a year, here to help you find practical ways forward when you feel overwhelmed or just need some advice.

Emotional Support

All our counsellors are members of, and accredited to, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), with extensive experience and expertise. You can discuss anything that may be troubling you, from relationships and stress, to work related issues including bullying, harassment, or changes at work, 24/7.

Information and advice

Available Monday to Friday, from 8am to 8pm, our knowledgeable advisors will try to find what you need to help you move forward. You can talk to them about a range of subjects, including legal information, relationship advice, stress & anxiety, bereavement, family issues, and childcare support.

The helpline is completely independent, and your call is treated in confidence in accordance with the BACP Ethical Framework. When you call you may be asked the name of your company – this is purely for statistical use. We will not pass information to your employer.

Supplementary to the helpline service, you can access:

Woebot

Empower yourself with clinically validated tools to make everyday better

Support for managers

Offering people managers a professional support service on many areas that a manager may encounter

Myeva

A digital financial expert offering advice and guidance on all kinds of money-related matters

Mental health first aid support

Support service for trained mental health first aiders in the workplace

Online chat

Our confidential support service allows you to speak to one of our advisers online

Budgeting calculator

Our handy online tool can help you to work out your income and expenditure to set a budget
Physical Health
Looking after your physical health is great for your general wellbeing but also helps to keep your heart, lungs, muscles, and bones healthy. People of all ages can benefit from being more active during the day.

Some of the benefits of physical activity include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Reduced risk of diabetes or help in controlling the condition
  • Improvement of muscle and bone strength
  • Relief of stress and anxiety
  • Control over bodyweight
  • Increased energy

Around 30% of adults and 80% of 13- to 15-year-olds are failing to meet the recommended amount of physical activity.  It is advised to aim for roughly 30 minutes of activity at least five times a week.

Physical activity does not have to be overexertive or strenuous to be effective. You don’t even need a gym membership to exercise. Walking is one of the most convenient forms of free exercise. A brisk walk can be an easy way of getting your heart rate up and strengthening your joints.

Including a small amount of exercise as part of your daily routine will soon help it become habit. Things you can do daily without too much thought include taking the stairs over the lift, parking slightly further away, cleaning around your home or even getting outside to do the gardening. 

Nutrition

Following a healthy and balanced diet alongside regular physical activity can help keep your body in check and cholesterol levels low. We all know that we should be aiming to meet our five a day from fruit and vegetables to help give our bodies the micronutrients it needs.

Too much salt in your diet can have impact on blood pressure. Often a lot of processed or packaged foods will have salt added to enhance the flavour. Official guidelines suggest consuming no more than 6g of salt per day. Where you can, check the labels on food choices to see the salt levels or try switching to a reduced-salt alternative.

Staying hydrated is important as our bodies are made up of around 70% water. We should be aiming for 6-8 glasses a day, or around 1.5 to 2 litres. It is especially important during warmer months or after exercise to drink more water as fluids are lost through perspiration. Adequate hydration can help to get rid of toxins in the body as well as prevent headaches and irritability.

Mental Health

Work-life balance

Too much stress is becoming more common in the workplace. Increased working hours and demanding work culture are affecting our lifestyles. This can be one of the biggest challenges to mental health for a lot of people. Recognising when you are under stress at work is an important start to changing your work-life balance. Signs of an unhealthy work-life balance may include:

• Neglect of other aspects of life including friends and family

• Hardly taking breaks when at work

• Finding it harder to relax when not at work

• Not using holiday entitlement during the year

• Low energy and tiredness

You may not be able to change your working hours, but you can take time off. Make sure you know your paid holiday entitlement and when this needs to be taken by. If your employer refuses to let you have any holiday, contact your local Citizen’s Advice for help and information.

Taking regular breaks during the working day is important. All UK workers have the right to a 20-minute break if working more than six hours in a day. Try and use this time to get out of the workplace for a change of environment and fresh air. If you have a desk job, it is advisable to also take short breaks away from computer screens throughout the day.

Many people already have a high workload but can find it hard to say ‘no’ to extra tasks. This can cause more stress than necessary. If you feel overwhelmed by your workload, speak to your line manager to let them know you are struggling. They may not know how you are feeling if you do not tell them. Learning to say ‘no’ when needed can help make your working day more productive.

Stress

Stress can affect people both emotionally and physically. It can change the way people behave and feel in everyday situations. Often, stress is felt when a situation puts pressure on us or we have no control over it. It might even be an accumulation of things that make us worry.

Physical signs of stress can include problems sleeping, feeling sick, shallow breathing, and headaches. You may start to feel irritable and anxious in your everyday life which can affect the way you behave. If not managed, stress can contribute to problems including anxiety and depression.

There are certain practical things you can do to help manage stress that you feel. Identifying any trigger events which might cause you stress can help you anticipate problems. You may be able to handle pressure more easily by organising your time. This can help make you feel more in control. There will be times when you must accept you cannot change certain things.

Making sure to look after your own wellbeing can help to reduce stress levels. You may find it more difficult to sleep when stressed but good sleeping habits can help you deal with tough situations. Making sure to keep a healthy and well-balanced diet alongside this can help you feel better in yourself.

Taking on a new hobby can help you to escape from thoughts of stress. You may even find something to do with others which can help you feel less isolated. Different things will help us all to relax and it is important to make time for these activities.

Remember, you don’t have to cope with stress alone. Speaking to friends and family can often help and they may be able to support you. If you feel overly stressed at work, try to speak with your HR department. If you are worried about stress affecting your health and need professional advice, speak to your doctor or GP. They may be able to help you access certain treatments to help you cope.

Finances

Budgeting

Financial difficulties can cause a huge amount of stress and affect our relationships, our work, and our friendships. Budgeting is the first step to managing your finances.

Where to begin?

The first step is to identify how much money you have coming in and how much is going out. Log everything you spend over a period of time to help you build a spending pattern.  

When drawing up a budget, make sure you record every area of spending, including money spent on social activities. If you are creating your own spreadsheet, remember to make allowances for occasional expenses such as car repairs and gifts. If you have large annual expenses such as Christmas, car insurance, MOT or holidays, you may find it easier to build a monthly amount into your budget rather than having to allow for one-off large bills in a single month.

Incomings versus outgoings 

Record your monthly wage after tax. If your wage varies, recording an average over a three-month period will give you a more accurate estimate. Total all your outgoings and deduct them from your monthly wage to give you a balance.

If the balance is negative, you are spending more than you earn and need to identify areas you can cut back on. For example, do you have the best deal for things like car insurance and utilities? Can you cut back on luxuries such as Sky TV? Can you run a cheaper car? Some outgoings like mobile phones may be subject to contracts and changes to payments could be subject to contractual obligations.

Setting your budget 

Go through each area of your budget and set a maximum amount you are going to spend each month. Planning your month in advance means you can keep control of your finances and ensure your wages last the month. By adjusting each area of the budget you can allocate more money to savings, large bills in the future or even spoiling yourself. 

Prioritising your payments will help to ensure you pay outgoings such as your mortgage and utilities on time. Failing to pay your priority bills will have a serious impact on your credit rating and may lead to you loosing your home.

Each of us will have slightly different priority bills depending on our circumstances, but common priority bills include:

  • mortgage/rent
  • utilities (gas, water, electricity)
  • Council Tax
  • TV licence
  • Secured loans

Non-priority bills

Don’t be misled by the name. Non-priority bills are still important. Failure to pay non-priority bills is not likely to end in imprisonment but your creditors will almost certainly take you through the civil courts to recover the money. Common non-priority bills include:

  • Credit/store cards
  • Overdrafts
  • Personal loans
  • Hire purchase
  • Parking fines

Savings

Long-term savings are usually associated with retirement and short-term savings are usually to pay upcoming large expenses: holidays, new cars, house repairs. It is recommended that you have two to three months’ equivalent wages in savings as a contingency so your budget should include monthly savings.

If you would like help balancing your budget and getting your spending under control, contact the Money Advice Trust and its National Debtline on 0808 808 4000 or Citizens Advice. Our trained advisers can also provide practical support and information on 0333 212 3534.

Disclaimer:  This information is for guidance only and we cannot be held responsible for any actions you take.

Benefits

Depending on your circumstances, there is a range of support so it’s important to make sure you get all the help you are entitled to. As the information on benefits is constantly changing, speak to our trained advisers on 0333 212 3534 to check which benefits you are eligible for depending on if you are working, unemployed, sick or disabled, a parent, a young person or an older person.

Other sources of information include Turn2us and Citizens Advice, which both have an online benefits calculator to help you check what you can claim for. If you are over the age of 55, contact Age UK for advice about benefits and pensions.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit paid monthly to help you with your basic living expenses and housing costs. You may be able to get it if you are of working age and on a low income or out of work.

Universal Credit is replacing what are known as legacy benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

The Government plans to complete the transfer of people on these benefits to Universal Credit by 2023. If you are currently claiming a legacy benefit, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will let you know when you need to claim Universal Credit.

Pensions

There are different pension schemes but the aim of each is to save now for an income in your retirement. Personal pensions are ones you arrange yourself and include stakeholder pensions and self-invested personal pensions. There are different workplace pension schemes provided by employers and each works in a different way. Since 2017, all workers have to be enrolled in a workplace pension scheme with rights to opt out within one month after enrolment. Eligibility is based on your age and earnings.

To find out more about the different types of pension schemes, contact the Pensions Advisory Service on 0800 011 3797. The Money Advice Service’s online pension calculator gives you an estimate of the income you’ll get when you retire. The State Pension is a minimum income you get from the Government when you retire to cover very basic living costs and is based on the National Insurance contributions you’ve made during your working life.

For many years, women received their pension when they turned 60 and men when they turned 65 but the State Pension age is changing. This is going to increase gradually to 68 for both men and women. In 2020 the State Pension age for men and women will be 66, then 67 between 2026 and 2028. The Government will also review the State Pension age every five years.

Debt

It’s easy to get into debt and it can be difficult to know who to turn to if your finances are out of control. Try to get help as soon as you realise you have a problem. Debt can knock your confidence too or be a symptom of other difficulties in your life.

Here is a checklist as a starting point:

• Do you always have an overdraft?

• Is your credit card balance increasing?

• Have you missed payments on rent, mortgage or loans?

• Do you have to borrow more to buy things?

• Have you been threatened with court action?

If you have answered YES to two or more of these questions, you probably need help sorting out your finances. People often put off facing their money problems. Perhaps you are worried that you will lose your home or your job or you have been threatened with bankruptcy. Remember, you cannot lose your home or be sent to prison without a court case. It is not an overnight process.

A good starting point is to talk it through confidentially with our advisers on 0333 212 3534. They will help you to decide what steps to take. Whether you are at breaking point and need ongoing guidance to resolve debts or just have a simple question, we are here to help.

It may be a case of a simple restructure of payments or it may be more complex. Our advisers can help to see if there are ways of increasing your income, for example, through benefits or tax credits.

Generally, there are five steps for dealing with debt:

1. Don’t ignore the problem because it won’t go away and the longer you leave it, the worse it will get.

2. Don’t borrow money to pay off debts without taking professional advice. If you own your home, this type of borrowing could lead to losing it.

3. Prioritise your debts so that you deal first with the creditors who could threaten your home or your freedom, rather than the ones who are shouting the loudest.

4. Prepare a financial statement to show your creditors that you are taking your problems seriously.

5. Negotiate with your creditors to agree realistic monthly payments. Most creditors would rather receive a small but regular payment than unrealistic promises or silence.

Emergencies

You need urgent help if you are about to be cut off, evicted, made bankrupt, taken to court or have a visit from bailiffs.

Don’t pay anyone to help you sort out your debts. Free, professional advice is available from organisations such as the Money Advice Trust and its National Debtline, the StepChange Debt Charity, Money Advice Scotland, and Citizens Advice. An adviser may be able to delay the action by contacting your creditors, giving you time to prepare a plan to get out of debt.

Don’t rush into a consolidation loan. These loans are often at a higher interest rate than you are already paying and new lenders may also want your home as security so take advice.

Once you’ve created some holding time, prepare your financial statement setting out your priority and non-priority debts to work out exactly what you can afford to offer your creditors. Your financial statement is a powerful negotiating tool to show creditors that your offer is realistic. Organisations providing debt advice will be able to advise you on the rules your particular creditors must follow and the best ways of negotiating with them.

The law allows greater enforcement powers for priority debts. The list below shows the actions that can be taken against you as a last resort. Eviction means losing your home. Distraint means having things that you own taken away. All these sanctions require lengthy court proceedings so they cannot happen overnight.

 

Priority debts

Type of debt Worst outcome
Mortgage arrears repossession / eviction
Secured loan arrears repossession / eviction
Rent arrears distraint / eviction
Council Tax arrears distraint / imprisonment
Fuel arrears: Gas, Electricity disconnection
Unpaid fines distraint / imprisonment
Maintenance arrears distraint / imprisonment
Income Tax, National Insurance or VAT arrears distraint / imprisonment
TV Licence distraint / imprisonment
Hire Purchase arrears (essential goods) repossession

 

Non-priority debts

Type of debt Worst outcome
Mortgage shortfall (negative equity) County Court judgement
Credit cards, store cards, catalogues County Court judgement
Unsecured loans and overdrafts County Court judgement
Parking penalties County Court judgement
Water rates arrears County Court judgement
Telephone bill disconnection/County Court judgement
Hire Purchase (non-essential goods)

Social fund loans or benefit overpayments

repossession

County Court judgement

 

Non-priority debts can only be collected through County Court proceedings. The Court will assess what you can afford using the information in your financial statement about your income, debts, and expenses. You will never be ordered to pay more than you can afford.

 
Family and Relationships

Childcare

There is a choice of childcare options so whichever one you choose needs to feel right for you and suit your and your child’s needs. Finding childcare is not a quick process and is likely to take six weeks from start to finish.

Childcare options

Your local Family Information Service (FIS) can provide information about registered childcare providers in your local area. Coram Family and Childcare’s Childcare Finder is a free, online, postcode search to help you find local registered childcare and family services, including your local FIS.

Childminders, day nurseries, workplace crèches, pre-primary schools, playgroups, schools, out-of-school and holiday clubs must be registered with Ofsted. Local lists are available free. Nannies and au pairs are not required to register with Ofsted although you should ask whether they have DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) clearance.

Providers of childcare for under eights are required to register with Ofsted. Registered facilities are assessed annually to check the safety and suitability of the premises and equipment. The staff are also checked regarding police records, health records, and personal references. You can check their registration with Ofsted.

Always check references by speaking to the referees on the phone or in person. If you are still uncertain which option is best for you and your child, ask yourself:

• Is it convenient?

• Is it reliable?

• Is it fun for children?

• Is it affordable?

• Does it feel right?

Go with your instincts. If you don’t trust the carer who looks great on paper, forget them, and keep looking. It’s not worth jumping at the first option. Wait until you feel sure it is going to work.

Have a written agreement with any carer. It does not need to be a lawyer’s document. Make a straightforward list of your expectations, including timings, costs, and what ifs. Both you and the carer should sign it and each keep a copy. Childminders and nursery managers will usually have their own standard contracts.

Childcare costs

The rules about eligible childcare costs are different in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. There is some help available toward approved childcare costs and additional support if your child has a special educational need or disability. Call our information and advice specialists on 0333 212 3534 to find out more about where you may be able to obtain help and/or funding from.

 

Elderly Relatives

At some stage, many of us will have to consider the living arrangements for an elderly relative. It helps to talk about the options and encourage your relative to think about their future needs before a crisis arises such as a fall, illness or death.

Staying at home

With family and friends nearby and familiar routines, staying at home might be the best option. Alterations might be needed to allow for decreasing mobility, while repairs, heating, and security are among other things that might be needed to make the house suitable. Speak to one of our advisers on 0333 212 3534 about help available or contact your local council or Care & Repair for more information.

Living with family

This could be anything from living as part of the family to a completely separate granny annexe so it is important to think through how this will work. Visitors, children, cooking, noise, finances, alterations, and independence are things you need to consider.

Sheltered housing

Sheltered housing can be bought, part-bought or rented. Residents have their own self-contained accommodation with access to support in emergencies. There are usually common areas such as a lounge and garden. Additional care options might include home help or meals on wheels, while very sheltered housing or extra care provides more support such as meals, domestic, and personal help. Close care is sheltered housing near to a nursing or residential home, with the option to use facilities and move into the home if necessary.

Residential and nursing homes

Residential homes provide domestic and personal care but not nursing care while nursing homes provide ongoing nursing care. For more information about housing options, talk to one of our advisers, Social Services or register with Elderly Accommodation and Care (EAC). You can search EAC’s database covering housing options by area according to your relative’s specific requirements.

Care

There is a range of options if your relative is unable to manage alone even if not registered disabled. Perhaps they have difficulties getting in and out of the bath or need help with shopping. Care is available in the private sector for those who can afford to pay for help or accessed through Social Services.

Private care

Private agencies for helpers and carers can be found through the United Kingdom Homecare Association and Independent Age.

Social Services

Whether or not financial help is needed, Social Services can help in assessing the needs of an elderly person, advise on available options in the area, and provide inspection reports of care facilities. Depending on the capital and income of the elderly person, they will be expected to contribute towards their own care.

Equipment for daily living

The Disabled Living Foundation can provide information about all types of equipment to help with daily tasks such as non-slip mats, long handled grabbers, and teapot tippers as well as assistive technology.

Voluntary help

There are voluntary organisations providing help for the elderly, from delivering library books, befriending, and transport to help with cleaning. Contact your local branch of Aged UK, local library, and doctor’s surgery for details.

Carers

Caring for someone else can be a relentless pressure without a break and affect your own health and wellbeing. For more information about support available for carers, contact Carers UK, Carers Trust, or speak to us.

Financial advice

Caring for an elderly relative, who may become increasingly immobile and frail, is potentially expensive. For financial advice, see www.payingforcare.org, consult an independent financial adviser or call us on 0333 212 3534 for information and advice.

 

Divorce

In April 2019 the Government announced that it will overhaul the divorce laws in England and Wales to introduce no-fault divorce and will introduce the new law when parliamentary time allows. The parallel law governing civil partnerships will also be updated.

Marriage is a legal contract and under current law in England and Wales, a divorce can only be granted if the marriage has irretrievably broken down on one or more of the following grounds: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, agreed separation (more than two years) or separation for more than five years.

The partner applying for a divorce is the petitioner and the other partner is the respondent. The court serves the divorce petition on the respondent and co-respondents named in it. If the respondent agrees with the petition, the court will grant a decree nisi if they are satisfied with the grounds for divorce. At this point, you will need to be resolving arrangements for your children and financial issues. You may be required to attend court to discuss these arrangements in person.

The decree absolute is the final stage of the divorce process and is the document that formally and legally ends your marriage. The petitioner can apply for a decree absolute six weeks and one day after the court has issued a decree nisi. The respondent can apply for the decree absolute after a further three months if the petitioner has not already done so.

The decree absolute cannot be granted until both parties have agreed all the financial issues and childcare arrangements. Call us on 0333 212 3534 if you would like to talk to a trained counsellor to help you with relationship issues and our trained information specialists about the practical aspects of your divorce.

Family breakdowns

The end of a marriage or relationship can be as distressing as a bereavement. There are practical matters to consider when ending a relationship and there are organisations that can help you depending on your circumstances. Our trained counsellors on 0333 212 3534 can help you assess your options, provide 24/7 emotional support throughout the process and signpost you to the help you need.

Violence

If you or any children are in danger, take action immediately by calling 999. Help is also available from:

• National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership with Women’s Aid and Refuge on 0808 2000 247

• Southall Black Sisters for black and minority women on 020 8571 0800

• Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 for males affected by domestic violence

• Galop, a national LGBT+ anti-violence charity on 0800 999 5428

Counselling

As you might feel your friends and relatives are too close to talk to about your relationship, you might prefer to talk to an independent counsellor. Relate offers face-to-face counselling, while other sources include:

• a referral from your GP to counselling

• Marriage Care on 0800 389 3801

• Jewish Women’s Aid on 0808 801 0500

• Mind on 0300 123 3393

Legal advice

Whether you are leaving or being left, you will need advice about how to disentangle your financial and domestic affairs. There are practical and legal consequences to ending a relationship including making arrangements about housing, your children, joint bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage, maintenance, possessions, pensions, and will.

You will need to notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HMRC about the change to your circumstances. You might be eligible for benefits that you were not receiving before the end of your relationship.

The organisations below provide legal advice or you can consult a solicitor specialising in family law. Our advisers can provide phone numbers for the following:

• Resolution – lists solicitors specialising in family law

• Citizens Advice – free advice

• Coram Children’s Legal Centre – advice about children and the law

• The Disability Law Service – free legal advice for people with disabilities and their families

• Rights of Women – free telephone legal advice for women

• Mediators

• Gingerbread – a charity supporting single parent families

 

Parenthood

Maternity leave

If you are entitled to take Statutory Maternity Leave, there are steps you need to take to let your employer know that you want to take it. To find out what you are entitled to, please call our trained advisers on 0333 212 3534 or use the online maternity rights calculator on www.gov.uk. This gives you a personalised statement of the Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay that you may qualify for and an interactive calendar to help you plan.

Company maternity leave and pay schemes

Check with your employer to see if your company has its own maternity leave scheme. If it does, it could be more generous than the statutory scheme. However, the company scheme must not be for less than your statutory rights.

Entitlement to Statutory Maternity Leave

As an employee or worker you have the right to 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave, totaling one year. The combined 52 weeks is known as Statutory Maternity Leave. To qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave you must be an employee. If you are an employee and you give your employer the correct notice, you can take Statutory Maternity Leave regardless of how long you have been with your employer, how many hours you work, or how much you are paid.

If you and your husband, wife or partner are having a child through surrogacy, you are not eligible normally for Statutory Maternity or Adoption Leave. However, you will be eligible for unpaid parental leave once you have a Parental Order.

If you do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave, check with your employer to see if the company offers enhanced maternity rights that you are entitled to. Your employer may allow you to take unpaid leave or you could consider taking paid holiday, unpaid leave or parental leave. You may still be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay.

Informing your employer

You must tell your employer you want to take Statutory Maternity Leave at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week your baby is due. If this is not possible, for example, you did not know you were pregnant, tell them as soon as possible when the baby is due and the date you want to start your maternity leave. You can change the date later provided you give at least 28 days’ notice.

Your employer might ask for notice in writing, as well as a copy of the MAT B1, also known as a Maternity Certificate, issued by your midwife or doctor stating when your baby is due. Once you have let your employer know, your employer should write to you within 28 days confirming your Statutory Maternity Leave and give you the date your Statutory Maternity Leave will end.

Starting your Statutory Maternity Leave

You can start your Statutory Maternity Leave any time from 11 weeks before the beginning of the week when your baby is due. If you are off work because of your pregnancy within four weeks of the expected birth date, your employer can make you start your Statutory Maternity Leave then. If you lose your baby you can still take your Statutory Maternity Leave if your child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy or born alive at any point of the pregnancy.

Compulsory Maternity Leave

You do not have to take all of your Statutory Maternity Leave. However, you must take two weeks (or four weeks if you work in a factory) of compulsory maternity leave after your baby is born.

Paternity leave

If you are a working father (including a same-sex partner) or the mother’s partner, you are entitled to one to two weeks’ paternity leave when you and your partner have a baby or adopt a child. You have to take paternity leave in a block of one or two weeks.

You might also be eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay. To qualify, you must have been working for the same employer without a break for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is born. You must carry on working for that employer without a break up to the date the child is born or placed with you for adoption.

You will have to give your employer notice that you intend taking paternity leave by the 15th week before your baby’s due date or within seven days of being matched for adoption. For more information about paternity leave and pay, shared parental leave, and to calculate your paternity leave and pay, see www.gov.uk

Work

Changes at work

We live in a fast-paced, always-on culture so change is inevitable. We often make conscious changes in our personal lives but changes at work are very often beyond our control, happening with little or no warning. While some people handle change positively, others struggle to deal with the consequences of a new situation.

Technological developments, market or economic conditions, mergers, acquisitions, corporate restructuring, and changes in business processes and job roles can cause changes that are out of your control. If you are struggling with changes in your work life and their impact on your personal life, our trained counsellors are a friendly voice at the end of the phone on 0333 212 3534.

Here are some tips to help you deal with change:

1 – Don’t rush it. Change is a process and involves a transition from one set of circumstances to another. Give yourself time to adjust and settle down. Talk to your line manager, they may be able to offer a staged approach to changes.

2 – Expect a reaction Change often involves a degree of loss, so it is fine to grieve a little and feel nostalgic.

3 – It’s not personal. Change happens. It may feel like it but it has got nothing to do with you. Don’t obsess over who is to blame or why it happened. This will only serve to create further problems down the line.

4 – Go with the flow. Remain open-minded and flexible about how things turn out because change rarely happens flawlessly.

5 – Don’t go it alone. Share your problems and concerns with your line manager and people you trust. Remember, if your friends and family do not know what is going on, they cannot help. An impartial point of view can often offer clarity.

6 – Don’t focus on the negative Looking for the positive will help you through the process and allow you to adapt to the new situation much more quickly.

7 – Break it up. A large problem will seem less insurmountable when divided into little ones. Work on them one at a time and celebrate small as well as large achievements.

8 – Learn from it Experience brings wisdom.

9 – Balance your life. It is important to have a personal life to fall back on to help you through tough times. Take time to be with your friends and family, do things you enjoy, and visit the places you like.

10 – Know that it will end. No matter how big or difficult, change comes to an end when the new circumstances are in place and become familiar. Keep in mind that things will

 

Critical Incident

After the trauma of a critical incident it’s natural to experience a range of feelings and thoughts, many of which will be distressing but will gradually go away over time. No two people will feel the same way after an incident but these after-effects are common during the days and weeks after a trauma.

Physical symptoms

• exhaustion

• sleeping more or inability to sleep

• loss of appetite or overeating

• loss of sexual interest

• nausea and/or diarrhoea

• tension and headaches

• irritability

• poor concentration

• lowered immune system

Emotional symptoms

You may experience a range of feelings including a withdrawal from feelings, interests, people, and activity as well as guilt that others came off worse than you. Other feelings might include a profound sadness about losses of every kind and the fear of breaking down or losing control may be intense. You might also feel anger at your powerlessness to prevent the incident and toward people you hold responsible and others for not understanding what it was like.

What you can do

Look after yourself and get plenty of rest and sleep. Watch your alcohol intake as alcohol tends to make your symptoms worse. Talk about your feelings to people supporting you, including those involved in the incident. Don’t expect an immediate return to how you were before but try to get back to your usual activities as soon as possible. As time goes on your symptoms will be less acute. To help your recovery:

• Exercise regularly to relive stress. Walking and swimming are excellent.

• Cut down on coffee, tea, alcohol, and smoking.

• Drink lots of water.

• Get plenty of sleep.

• Talk about your feelings following the incident.

Our professionally trained counsellors are critical incident trained and can provide immediate and 24/7 support straight after any distressing incident that you may be invovled in on 0333 212 3534.

 

Returning to work

Whatever the reason for your absence from work, the thought of going back to work can sometimes be daunting, especially if you have been off work for some time.

You might be worried about coping with the physical and mental demands of a full day’s work or anxious about emails and paperwork awaiting you. Depending on why and how long you have been off work, you may need to consult your doctor before going back to work to check you are fit to deal with the mental and physical demands of your role.

It is a good idea to contact your manager before your first day back. Most organisations will have a formal return to work procedure and it is likely you will be required to attend a return to work interview. This is an opportunity to discuss your situation with your manager and address any aspects that may have contributed towards your absence.

Your employer might be willing to offer structured support over a period of time to help you settle back in. This could be a period of part-time working to ease you back into work or help from a colleague with certain aspects of your job. If you are finding the prospect of returning to work daunting, call our helpline on 0333 212 3534 to talk through any concerns you have.

 

Redundancy

Redundancy is a form of dismissal from your job and can happen for various reasons. Your employer might need to reduce the workforce to cut costs, the company is relocating, being restructured or going out of business.

You may be eligible for:

• redundancy pay

• a notice period

• a consultation with your employer

• the option to move to a different job

• time off to find a new job

There are procedures that employers have to follow if they are making people redundant. Unless all employees are being made redundant because the company is going out of business, the selection for redundancy must be fair and objective.

There are certain grounds that cannot be used to make you redundant including race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, membership or not of a trade union, full- or part-time work, maternity leave, paternity leave or doing jury service.

If you feel you have been made redundant unfairly, you have the right to appeal by writing to your employer and might also have the right to go to an employment tribunal. For further information about your rights, the statutory payments you are entitled to, notice periods, and consultation, please see www.gov.uk or www.acas.org.uk (Advisory, Consultation and Arbitration Service), which has an online helpline.

Housing

Housing

Renting

From time to time, issues can arise between tenants and landlords. It Is important to talk to your landlord if you do have any issues, so they can be resolved. Although rights and obligations can vary between tenancy agreements, there are common rights for most Assured Shorthold tenants.

Rental payments

Most private rental properties are through a landlord or letting agency. If you have a fixed-term contract the amount you pay will remain the same until the contract ends. When the contract does expire, you may have a periodic tenancy, where your landlord can increase the rental payment subject to a notice period as defined in your agreement. Please note: different rights apply if you share accommodation with your landlord.

Deposits and inventory

A deposit is usually required before you move into a rental property. Typically, this equates to six weeks rent but can vary depending on your landlord or letting agency. Landlords in England and Wales are obliged to place your deposit in a protection scheme.

An inventory may be taken before you move in to record the contents of the house and its condition. It is a good idea to check this for yourself or conduct your own if not provided by the landlord or agent. This will be used when you leave your tenancy to identify any damage or missing items. You should receive the full sum of deposit made at the end of your tenancy, unless:

• You have unpaid rent arrears

• You have damaged the property above fair wear and tear

• You have removed items belonging to the landlord

• You have left the property unclean

If there is a dispute over any of the above, the deposit protection scheme’s dispute resolution service can be used.

Fair wear and tear

There is no legal definition of fair wear and tear which can sometimes cause disagreements between landlords and tenants. The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has useful guidelines on what can be considered reasonable, covering topics including age and condition of items, expected usage of items, number of occupants, and the length of tenancy in a property. Landlords are not entitled to charge tenants for having any part of the property put back to its original condition.

Repairs and maintenance

Most properties will need maintenance from time to time. It is important to check the tenancy agreement to see who is responsible for the cost of repairs. Tenants are usually made responsible for general day-to-day upkeep and landlords in charge of more structural repairs. If you find your landlord is not carrying out their duty, you should contact them in writing to request the repairs are seen to. Alternatively, you should seek legal advice to find out more.

This information is general advice and we cannot be held responsible for any actions taken. 

 

Neighbour disputes

Boundaries

Property boundaries can often be an issue which comes up between neighbours. To clarify a boundary line, you will need a copy of the property plan which can be obtained from the Land Registry (fees may apply). Boundaries can be found edged in red on a plan but may need clarification from a surveyor. A tie mark may also be attached to a boundary to denote ownership. This mark, in the shape of a T, points in the direction of the boundary owner and will show who is responsible for its maintenance.

Trespass

Trespass of a neighbouring property relates to anything which projects over the boundary line, both in the air or on the ground. The most common examples are overhanging trees and hedges. It is within neighbouring rights to ask the tree owner to remove any trespassing elements. If they decide not to, the affected neighbour can remove the material themselves, but this must be returned to the owner. It is important to check before taking any action as some trees have preservation orders.

Noise complaints

You may find continuous or intermittent noise to be an issue with your neighbours. A noise complaint can be made if you feel it is disrupting the quality of your day-to-day life. You should contact your Local Authority Environmental Health department who will help you establish the volume of noise via recordings.

 

Homelessness

Homelessness

You don’t have to be sleeping on the street to be considered homeless. Sleeping on a friend’s sofa, overcrowding, or experiencing domestic abuse are some of the other reasons you can be legally homeless. If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness you should contact your local authority within eight weeks. If you are eligible, (dependent on your immigration status) the council will provide a Personal Housing Plan to help you stay in your current home or find somewhere to live. They may also have a duty to provide emergency accommodation during this period. For independent advice, you can contact your local Citizens Advice or speak to a housing advisor at Shelter.

Shelter – freephone advice line 0808 800 4444 or www.shelter.org.uk.

Citizens advice – national phone service 03444 111 444 or find your local service at www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

Bereavement and Loss
At some time in our lives we all face the pain of bereavement. It is important to take extra care of yourself during the mourning and bereavement process. Most people find that it takes a long time before they start to feel better after the death of someone very close. There is no set pattern to the grieving process. You feel what you feel and it may not appear logical ranging from numbness and anger to disbelief and guilt. Don’t try to fit in with other people’s expectations. Do things at your own pace.

Caring for a bereaved child when you are grieving yourself is far from easy so accept offers of help from people to support you during this difficult time. It may be practical help you want with shopping and cooking or some time to yourself without children to look after.

Organisations providing counselling and support include:

  • Cruse for children, young people, and adults
  • Winton’s Wish for children and their families
  • WAY for men and women aged 50 or under when their partner died

Funerals

When someone dies, there are lots of practical things to deal with which can be stressful at a time when you are dealing with your own grief. For the steps involved when a person dies including registering the death and the Tell Us Once service that lets you report a death to most government departments in one go, see www.gov.uk.

One of the things you might have to do is arrange the funeral. Before you make any arrangements, you will need the relevant certificates from the register office where the person’s death is registered.

People often leave instructions for their funeral so check through the person’s papers to see if that is the case. The person might have a prepaid funeral or insurance plan to cover their funeral expenses and these details might be with their personal papers or their solicitor.

Deciding on the details of a funeral is a very personal choice. Be sure to ask for an estimate from the funeral director as costs can escalate. Check www.gov.uk to see if you are eligible for Bereavement Support Payment. The Printing Charity might also be able to help you with a one-off bereavement grant to help with the funeral costs.

Wills

If a person left a will, it may be with their personal papers or solicitor. The Consumers’ Association publishes a comprehensive guide explaining how to make a will and how to administer the estate of someone who has just died, without using a solicitor. It also covers inheritance law and tax as well as describing what happens when there is no will. For further guidance, contact your local Probate Registry Office.
Addiction

Smoking

Smoking can have major consequences on your overall health from heart disease and respiratory problems to many major cancers. It can also affect your appearance including hair, skin, and teeth. Giving up smoking can help improve your health and wellbeing.

It is a big commitment to stop smoking as it requires a change in how you think and behave. To help you get started, think about the following steps:

• Write down the benefits of not smoking, including health and saving money

• Make people around you aware of your intentions so they can offer support

• Remove any immediate cigarettes or lighters in your environment

• Be aware of triggers that make you reach for a cigarette

Nicotine replacement therapy can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms and relapse back to smoking. There are several products on the market including patches and chewing gum. It is best to contact your doctor or GP for advice on these.

Professional help and advice are available if you need it. Speak to one of our trained advisors for confidential support on 0333 2123534.

Alcohol

Alcohol is an addictive substance and some people can become dependent on it. Regularly drinking just about the recommended levels can be harmful to your health.

For both men and women, the recommended guideline of alcohol consumption is no more than 14 units per week as stated by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer. One unit of alcohol equates to half a pint of beer or a 25ml measure of spirit, whilst a 125ml glass of wine equals one and a half units. Sticking to these limits can help keep the harmful risks to your health low.

Drinking too much alcohol can have an immediate effect on your mood, sleep, and behaviour. Over a few years, regular drinking above safe levels can cause health problems including liver damage, reduced fertility, high blood pressure, and heart problems.

Cutting down can be overwhelming so approach things one step at a time. Here are some useful tips to help reduce your alcohol consumption:

• Write down the reason you wish to change your drinking habits

• Set a realistic goal you can stick to e.g. 2 drinks per week

• Tell friends and family that you are cutting down, so they can help support you

• Try swapping strong alcohol like beer and wine for a lower strength option

• Try choosing a smaller measure of drink when you do have one

• Stay hydrated with water before you have alcohol or even opt for a soft drink in-between

Talk to one of our trained information and advice specialists who can help provide more information.

 

Additional resources

Physical health

Check your health by taking the free One You quiz 

Exercise

The benefits of exercise are great for our bodies and our minds.

Eating well

Making better choices with food and drink can help us to feel better

Mental health

Mind has specialist information and support to help you if you are feeling overwhelmed

Mindfulness

Being present with our thoughts and feelings can help improve our mental wellbeing. 

Stress

Stress can affect us all in different ways but it’s important to know how to spot the signs.

Work-life balance

As the majority of us spend most of our time working, a healthy work-life balance is important for our wellbeing.