Ali is a single dad and widower who lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with his two sons, Mohammad, 12, and Hamza, 8. Mohammad has been diagnosed as autistic. Ali tells us about the impact of raising Mohammad and the support that he received from Family Fund to improve his financial situation.
Ali explains, “The diagnosis process was very long. It all started around the age of five, when Mohammad’s grandmother noticed that he wasn’t responding to our questions. We monitored the situation for a while and eventually took Mohammad to see the doctor who referred him to a specialist NHS diagnosis centre. Mohammad underwent a lot of assessments and then two and half years later he finally received the autism diagnosis at the age of 11.
“During the assessment process, Mohammad’s school noticed that he acts like a child much younger than his age, and that he’s easily distracted with no sense of danger. So, the school now provides him with a lot of support including one to one sessions and specialised learning.”
Ali says, “It’s been difficult for me to adjust to Mohammad’s care needs. I was once working in Afghanistan on the front line with the British Army. Mohammad’s mother passed away a few years ago so I’m now a single parent. I was also new to the UK after I was given residency from the government. So, there has been a lot of changes in my life that have been challenging.
“At home, I must constantly supervise and support Mohammad with everything including toileting, washing, and eating. He doesn’t see the world in the same way as others. If you ask him a question, then his answer isn’t related to the question. Mohammad doesn’t fully understand the world around him.
“Also, caring for Mohammad has been expensive. Growing up, Mohammad would have a lot of toileting accidents. Sometimes I could clean the clothes but other times I had to throw them away. Compared to his brother, Hamza, I spend a lot more money on Mohammad due to his additional care needs.”
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Ali recalls, “When I arrived in the UK for the first time as a single parent with two young children, it was a huge challenge. We moved three times in three years and there were some days where I could only feed my family a loaf of bread and a jar of Nutella for every meal. It was the biggest financial crisis that I ever faced.
“I wasn’t aware of any benefits at the time. But I spoke to someone who introduced me to income support and the services of Family Fund. When the charity started to help me, I attended a few online workshops on Zoom. I learnt so much. Including how to use the Benefit Calculator, how to apply for winter heating schemes, and I discovered that I would be eligible for Child Benefit. I was also showed how I could find more organisations that offer grants and services. After learning that I could apply for Child Benefit, my family is now £200 a month better off, which goes a long way. This has been the biggest help to me as a single parent.
“The support that I received from Family Fund and their workshops is something I can never forget. Whenever I speak to someone from the organisation, they’re always helpful and in a good mood. They never say no to you. The help my family has received is life changing.”
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