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6 handy services you might not realise you're entitled to

You might be surprised at how much help is at hand.

THIS TIME OF the year can be tough.

It’s a time of change and beginnings for many of us. And for some, that can even mean upheaval or a big change in circumstances. Many of us may not know what our entitlements are for these life shifts, what services are available out there to help us navigate them – or even where to start finding out.

The Citizens Information Service are here to help – no matter if you need a range of services from finding a job, getting a new passport, or just understanding what you are entitled to in terms of grants and incentives.

Here are a few just to get you started…

1. Marriage or relationship break-down

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If you’re experiencing the potential breakdown of a marriage or other relationship, you’ll know how hard it is. Several key issues need to be addressed, such as financial matters, the home and parenting. Trying to sort this can be stress-inducing and difficult – and there may be issues at play such as barring orders and safety concerns. The below are just some of the options available to you:

  • Family Mediation Service
  • Legal advice from the Legal Aid Board
  • Legal advice from FLAC
  • Support services for abusive relationships from Cosc
  • Counselling for children experiencing separation
  • Housing Assistance Payment

Find out more here.

2. Mental health support

If you find yourself feeling like you can’t cope and need to speak to someone about your mental health, there are several places you can turn to. One such example is Aware, whose Support Line is available at 1800 80 48 48. Aware’s other core services are a Support Mail and Support Groups around the country.

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Some other helplines that also offer assistance:

  • Samaritans – 116 123
  • Pieta House – 01 601 0000
  • Teen-Line Ireland – 1800 833 634
  • Childline – 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)
  • turn2me.org - online counselling

3. Changing circumstances

New Years resolutions have just been made by lots of us. If you’re thinking of leaving your job to focus your energy on your family or caring for someone, it’s important to assess your situation before you take the plunge – and the Citizens Information Service can help here.

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For example, it’s advisable to keep up your voluntary social insurance contributions if your circumstances change and you are no longer paying PRSI. This will help you to qualify for social insurance payments such as the Contributory State Pension. If you’re thinking of becoming a full-time parent, it’s also worth looking into the Homemaker’s Scheme for the same reason.

4. Becoming a full-time carer

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If you are working and need to take time off to take care of someone sick, then Carer’s Benefit may be available for you. This is for people who leave the workforce in order to care for someone in need of full-time attention.

5. Family income supplement

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If you are in a working family struggling to make ends meet, Family Income Support could help. It is a tax-free weekly payment for those in employment with at least one child living with them or financially supported by them. It can also be paid together with other payments, such as the Back To Work Family Dividend.

6. Debt clearing and arrears issues

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If you’re in need of mortgage arrears support, Abhaile may be the service for you. Abhaile is operated by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, which has been offering support to those in need of debt advice in Ireland for over 20 years. Anyone worried about their mortgage can contact MABS on 0761 07 2000, Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm.

Need more information? Don’t hesitate to ask for it

  • Drop in – The face-to-face service is free, confidential and independent, and is available in more than 215 locations nationwide.
  • Call – Our Helpline 0761 07 4000 is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm, if you would like to call us for information and advice.
  • Log on – Our website www.citizensinfornation.ie has lots of information across a broad range of topics to help you find out about your rights and entitlements.
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