Understanding & applying for Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with your living costs. You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income, out of work or cannot work. Universal Credit is being rolled out to replace Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Employment & Support Allowance and Income Support.

Find out more about Universal Credit using the useful guide here. It covers who can apply, how to apply, how much money you can claim, a glossary to help with Universal Credit terminology and more.


Local schools and pupils are desperate for laptops & tablets so children can study at home.

The charity Top up to Teach urgently needs working, internet-compatible tablets or laptops (with charger) to donate to Kent schools.

They need to be under 7 years old with battery & cable. Those that can run Zoom and Microsoft Teams with a camera inbuilt are especially welcome.
If not already clean, the charity will professionally remove them of all data.

Please contact Ruth on 07767 261883 to arrange collection in Benenden & Iden Green

Symptom-free testing in Cranbrook

A symptom-free testing site has been set up in The Vestry Hall in Cranbrook to help reduce rates of COVID-19.

KCC’s advice is that everyone without symptoms should get tested every 2 weeks, especially if you’re leaving the house for a necessary reason, such as going to work or shopping for essentials. Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 have no symptoms, so regular testing allows you to make sure you that are not unknowingly spreading the virus.

To take a symptom-free test in Cranbrook you must:

  • live or work in Kent
  • be 5 years old or over
  • have no COVID-19 symptoms.
  • not have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days.

Click here to read the information and to book an appointment.

Important: Don’t book at an appointment at the Vestry Hall if you have coronavirus symptoms. If you do have coronavirus symptoms book a NHS test

Parking: suggest parking at the top of Jockey Lane Car Park TN17 3JN and then it is a gentle walk downhill to the Vestry Hall, where the Royal Engineers are in charge.

Bring a coat or umbrella as you may wait outside for a few minutes if you are early.

Vaccine scams

Please be aware of fraudsters sending out emails and texts offering vaccines.

The following is an example of such a message that was received by a resident recently: “NHS: We have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine. For more information and to apply, follow here:( link)”

The link takes you to a page with an official looking NHS heading on a blue background & headed “We need to prove ownership of address. Please get a debit / credit card ready, you will need: Sort Code, Account Number, Long card number. We use this to verify billing address with the bank. No payments are made during verification [There is a ‘ continue ‘ box].

If you receive this or anything similar, it is a scam. The NHS will never ask you for account details. PIN numbers etc. If you receive any messages like this, then please report to Action Fraud eitheronline at www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime. Or call 0300 123 2040.

Additionally, if you think you may have fallen victim to this scam, then please contact your bank immediately.

Adult Mental Health Services

Release the pressure – don’t suffer in silence: If you are in distress, you can get immediate support from trained staff 24-hours a day. Call 0800 107 0160 or text the word Kent to 85258 www.releasethepressure.uk

Safe havens: If you need to see someone face to face, there are Safe Havens across Kent and Medway which offer friendly support to anyone over the age of 16 living in Kent and Medway. Available between 6pm-11pm, 365 days a year www.kmpt.nhs.uk/safehavenskentmedway

Dementia helpline: For a confidential service offering support and guidance for people with dementia and their carers call 0800 500 3014 or visit www.dementiafriendlykent.org.uk

Live well: Is your mental health impacting your life, work, money, housing or relationships? Live Well can help through a range of groups, programmes and services. Find out more at www.livewellkent.org.uk If you are known to KMPT or need urgent mental health support, advice and guidance, call the 24-hour helpline 0300 222 0123

Talking Therapies: Sometimes it takes more than one conversation to make a difference. You can access a range of NHS therapies from this website www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-psychological-therapies-service

Free business workshops

Visit Kent Business has launched a range of workshops designed to help businesses design new visitor experiences from non-tourism backgrounds and reach new markets and income streams.

They will give business owners the chance to gather their thoughts, re-focus, pivot their strategies and discuss ideas with potential collaborators across the county. The workshops, funded by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, are on from 4-19 November .

For further information visit https://www.visitkentbusiness.co.uk/get-involved/experience-taking-your-ideas-to-market/experience-development-workshops/

Current lockdown rules

Until 2 December everyone must stay at home and may leave only for a limited set of reasons. These include:

• For education

• For work if you cannot work from home

• For exercise and recreation outdoors, with your household, support bubble or on your own with one person from another household

• For all medical reasons, appointments and to escape injury or harm

• To shop for food and essentials

• To visit members of your support bubble, for single people / parents.

• And to provide care for vulnerable people, or as a volunteer.

Continue reading “Current lockdown rules”

Free school meals

Kent Count Council looks after schools/education and school meals. The Leader of KCC has said help for anyone struggling to provide for their children is available. If your child is eligible for free school meals and you are in need of financial assistance this half term you can get in touch by visiting kent.gov.uk/kenttogether You can also call the helpline on 03000 41 92 92. If you think this information may be helpful to someone you know please pass it on.