Elaine Gilman


After a string of unrelated personal incidence, I was left under severe financial hardship. I had a relatively good income, but my expenditure was out of control due to debts amassing and becoming behind. I had final notice letters daily from different accounts and was living on around £15 per week.

After allowing Rowena to take a look (she was already helping my Mum with her finances as she was going through a rather unpleasant divorce), with a few weeks things had become under control. I still owed a fairly large amount of money, but the companies were no longer chasing me for payment every other day and this meant I could focus on earning and controlling my spending to allow me to pay this back in a way that was affordable to me at the time. I had roughly £35,000 in debts when I started seeking help from Rowena and this was spread over 6 or 7 different accounts.

2 years later and I am debt free. Sure, I did receive a lump sum as far as an inheritance, but the majority of work was done before that inheritance was even mentioned. Rowena put me on track to being debt free and financially stable in roughly 3 years thanks to her training and expertise and took the stress away from dealing with financial companies who in reality don’t care if the car they are trying to take is your only method of getting to work to earn a living to repay that very debt.

She limited the damage to my credit score and protected my future interests. I can honestly say I am now completely financially stable and I am roughly half way to getting the deposit for a mortgage. The mortgage providers have stated that without her help during my financial crisis, my credit score wouldn’t be even close to applicable for the worst sub-prime mortgages out there, let alone a bank backed low interest mortgage that they have provisionally offered due to finding a suitable property etc. This wouldn’t have been possible without her help, support and advice and without all of that, I would probably still be in the same boat I was 2 years ago.

Thank you Rowena and CBS. You are a saviour!

Greg Gilman


Would like to thank you to Rowena and CBS to deal with my daughter`s DLA case. After the DLA was not awarded, my daughters case reached the Tribunal level. After 18 months of bureaucratic fight and 1 court hearing, we been exhausted and lost. Luckily we`ve find Rowena Koning who helped us to obtain the highest rate of care component and lowest rate of mobility component of Disability Living Allowance. Meanwhile, when we struggled financially because of COVID-19 lockdown , we got a generous grant to buy food for our family . Always will be greatfull!
Your work at CBS it is very precious and indispensable, so good luck and please keep it on, because the society and people really need you!

Thank you.

Zoltan Imre Szabo


Both my wife and I would like to express many thanks for the help and support received over many months.  Help with my wife’s benefit claims for ESA and the change over from DLA to PIP.

Rowena we feel goes over and above. With her extensive knowledge, advice and making contact on our behalf to DWP she not only takes on the work load, help with forms telephone calls etc but gave much emotional support through what was a very stressful time for both my wife and I.

Without the work of CBS and Rowena I doubt we would have got through this and my wife may not yet have received the benefits to which she is entitled.

Rowena truly is an earth angel and deserves much praise for her dedication, hard work and compassion, that I am aware she gives to many others also in her work for CBS.

We have already recommended your services to others and will continue to do so.

We truly will never forget your support.

Thank you,

Gary and Carroll Marsh.


Dear Rowena,

I would like to thank you for all your advice and support during my time in Newquay. I find myself in my final few days here and although it has been very challenging at times, without your support and advice my time here would have been almost unbearable.

When I first saw you at the DISC community centre, I was miserable and in a pretty desperate situation.   As you know I was brought to Newquay by a so-called friend but as it turned out under a very insidious agenda, this left me feeling trapped, isolated and in a vulnerable position.

You straight away took my situation for what it was and in a very serious and thorough manner, this has been crucial for my mental health and wellbeing. The information you brought and insight into support services and processes has been a much-needed lifeline for me. Having the community centre to hand has also acted as a safe haven and a place to socialise and eat and drink if required. It has given me some breathing space and an escape from my situation.

I will always be grateful for your kindness and support at what has turned out to be an unanticipated challenge at this time in my life. It has been vital to have a friendly face such as yours available to me.

The work you are doing for the local community is amazing and I leave Newquay in the knowledge you will be able to offer ongoing support to local residents who are most in need. It does warm the heart and goes some way to restoring my faith in humanity.

I wish you all the best for the future and admire the selfless work you have done and continue to do!!

Many thanks again for everything you have done!

Warmest regards

Stuart Spensley


The world would be a much nicer place with more people like Rowena and an awful lot fairer.  She is passionate about her work and very knowledgeable, an inspiration to all people who have been beaten down and broken by the injustices of the Benefit system.  How she manages to do what she does, on her own, is beyond me.

For myself, she became my voice, she helped me to cast aside my feelings of being unworthy, unimportant, a liar and a cheat and actually made me feel that I did matter, that the DWP were entirely at fault, and urged me to take the next step, which I did.

After spending many hours helping me to prepare for the tribunal, identifying errors made by DWP, including telling blatant lies, which were proven to the court, I came away from the tribunal feeling completely overwhelmed by the whole process, very emotional but elated that my points for the mobility part of PIP had doubled!!!

I would never have been strong enough to face a tribunal on my own, and for that Rowena,  I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Denise Crispin 


Dear Rowena

I’ll get straight to the point in my mind this letter is way overdue .

I need to express how grateful I am to you for all of your help and support that you have given me over the years .

I remember when I had to sign on every week at the job center that was so degrading for me and felt pressured which I had two breakdowns at the job center so you phoned my MP and spoke to his senior assistant who immediately phoned the job center and I was changed onto the support group for ESA so I did not have to attend the job center on a weekly basis thank you so much.

I live in a one bedroom flat which is quite big and I love but the Housing Association and maintenance men are an absolute nightmare and I will not let them get away with shoddy workmanship after a while made me feel ill hence I shut down spent hours in my bed not taking my medication not wanting to go out because of their actions.

Thank fully I don,t have much communication with the staff or maintenance men now as you are in control of this now Rowena which takes a load of stress and anxiety away from me thank you so much .

To say you are good at your job is to me an insult you are brilliant Rowena and have helped me so much which I will never forget .

I really don,t know what I would do if I did not have your help and support thank you so much . Yours sincerely K Foster 


I am so grateful for the help I received from your organisation, it is invaluable.

There simply is no other organisation that provides help with the complex issues that disabled people like myself have with health and financial matters. ,this is not the only reason that I highly recommend the service it is also the excellent quality and empathy of Rowena and her drive for a fair and dignified service for disabled people.

Very best Alison Orsler


Just a short note to mention Rowena’s help with the filling in of my dla to pip application.The help provided whilst talking me through the form filling proved invaluable .without your help I am convinced that I would not have got the positive result that I did gaining enough points to retain my mobility car at the enhanced rate and for a ongoing period.For anyone in the same situation starting out on the pip application I would not hesitate in recommending your service once again thanks for all your help.

Kind regards Roger


I can only look to thank Rowena from the bottom of my heart on what she has done for me in support. If it wasn’t for CBS and there support I would have defiantly have suffered from malnourishment this year whilst trying to sort my benefits. along with finding out a lot of things of services I was paying that was over the odds or set up wrongly for years! this helped vastly to help control my finances better whilst being on a shoe string whilst also learning of where I could go for help. The other side of it was having the emotional support to deal with what was required to be provided and the stress involved within dealing with the benefit system. For someone with ptsd and mental health issues often the stress of things being in process and taking time can have real detrimental effect on my health created by the system that is meant to be there as support. This is where as having CBS there as a voice to represent myself I felt better able to understand and endure the overwhelming and stressful process of what I needed to go through to get the help and support I needed and cope to when goal posts moved or different requests was made in having someone in my corner to explain it. PL


CBS I can only say from my personal experience that I did not expect a high, professional service.

Its my first application and with the help and support from CBS my mind is finally at ease with the outcome as I had a very worrying time.

I highly recommend this service as I am very  grateful for the encouragement to get me through such a daunting process.

Thank you KT 


Dear Rowena I,ll get straight to the point in my mind this letter is way overdue . I need to express how grateful I am Rowena for all your help and support that you have given me over the years .

I remember when I had to sign on every week at the job center that was so degrading for me and felt pressured which upon that I had to breakdowns at the job center on which you phoned my MP and spoke to his assistant she immediately phoned the job center and I was transferred to the correct benefit which meant I no longer had to go to the job center on a weekly basis thank you so much .

I live in a one bedroom flat which is big and I love but the housing association and maintenance men are an absolute nightmare and I will not let them get away with doing shoddy workmanship after a while made me feel ill hence I shut down and spent hours in my bed not taking my medication not wanting to go out because of their actions.

Thank fully I don t have much communication with the staff or maintenance men now as you are in control of this now Rowena which takes a load of stress and anxiety away from me thank you so much to say you are good at your job is to me an insult you are brilliant Rowena and have helped me so much which I will never forget , I really don,t know what I would do if I didn,t have your help and support  thank you so much Your Sincerely K Foster 


When I first met Rowena I was in a total downward spiral I felt I had no control over anything in my life. Being a single parent to a young child I was juggling running a home that was far too expensive for me in my own, raising him and also trying to work in a job that didn’t actually help at all with regards to shift patterns or around childcare and that treated me incredibly poorly

. I was in a LOT of debt and just hid it all away from everyone. I was in total denial about how bad everything had gotten and my anxiety was getting worse and my depression felt like it was making a horrific come back.

My first session with Rowena was amazing from the moment I met her I felt like everything was finally going to be okay. In the first session sorted out a payday loan that I was totally dreading and also spoke to a couple of my other creditors and I had a flood of relief come over me and it was so emotional I did have a good old cry which was a happy cry not a sad one that I had been having recently!

We then met up weekly to go through all my creditors and one by one we slowly paid them off and I started to regain control.

I then also managed to gain myself a new job which had child friendly hours and also got myself a new home which is much easier to run as it is social housing.

I would have never been able to do any of this without her incredible help. She is truly a one of kind lady that is exceptional at her job.

If it wasn’t for Rowena I honestly think I would have lost all my friendships and relationship with my family and I don’t know if I could say wether I would still be here or not.

What I have learnt is it’s okay to ask for help and for not to be ashamed.

I am so great full for everything she has done for me.

Thank you Rosie Stone


I recently received a generous grant from CBS to buy food for myself and my son. We are in temporary accommodation and do not have access to appropriate kitchen facilities to cater to our dietary requirements. Due to an already challenging financial situation I have been unable to buy food for us as all my money goes to pay bills. I have had people non chalantly remark that I should swallow my pride and go to the food bank. Various organisations have offered food bank vouchers. What no one seems to understand, except CBS, is that not going to the food bank has nothing to do with pride and evenrything to do with the fact that both of us would be extremely ill if we ate the food that is available at food banks as we both suffer with severe food allergies and health issues that require a very monitored and specific diet that just isn’t catered for at food banks. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Without CBS’s kindness, generosity and support, we definitely would not have had any access to food which is an awful thing to confess considering we are supposed to be living in the ‘developed world’ yet, we, like so many, are literally starving and have no accommodation to call home through no fault of our own. If it wasn’t for CBS who have been there for us and continue to help us through some seriously challenging times I really don’t know what we would have done without them. If only the world was filled with more organisations like this instead of it being the exception, the world would definitely be in a better place for us all.

Thank you SO much for all that you do. And an extra special thank you for helping me to feed my son. You will never know how much it means.




SW 7/3/19

Hello my name is Shaun for a number of years I have been suffering from Epilepsy and also mental health problems and anxiety disorder.

I have struggled to understand my condition and particularly financial  issues which have caused hardship and poverty.

I had a benefit change that affected my health with devastating consequences unable to cope or communicate I did not feel I was being listened to , and I reached a point where I needed help.

Penta referred me to Counselling and Benefit Support Limited and I did not know what to expect or understand the process and whether I was going to be helped or be put under more pressure because of previous experience.

This process has been what I have needed for many years Rowena listened , explained the process and I felt reassured and comforted and relieved.

Now I can move forward , my mental health has improved , my physical health has also improved I have a better relationship with my GP who has now changed my medication and written a supporting letter.

This service is a vital life line for people in crisis and should be fully supported with funding so they can continue to help others.

Callum Wilkinson – 27th June 2019

I have been meaning to write this testimonial for a very long time , I have been seeing Rowena Koning for at least 4 years for support.

I took my problems down to Counselling and Benefit Support Limited and to be honest I was not expecting anything to be resolved.

My understanding around these issues were very limited and I thought there was not a chance in hell of being able to sort this out.

I could not of been more wrong , to start with Rowena spilt each issue down into manageable segments or as she puts it ” eating the elephant eating one piece at a time”.

Rowena took a massive load off my shoulders and I,m still not sure how she managed it , she spoke with my creditors and helped me put them in priority order and set up a payment plan which incorporated all of them.

On top of this, she helped me put things into perspective and supported me and my family throughout , I have recently been seeing Rowena about my Personal Independence Payment Mandatory Reconsideration while this is ongoing , here is where we have got to.

  1. I would not have been able to get as far as she has helped to reach.
  2. I would not of been able to understand the process and how it works.

I would recommend Rowena Koning and her amazing service to any and all people who need help and support with understanding their financial matters or if they need help with benefits in general.

“What a fantastic FREE service” – 4/6/19

I came across this service by accident, an incidental remark by a worker from Inclusion Cornwall who gave me Rowena’s name, I am so glad that she was able to take me on, I would be dead now if it weren’t for her.

Read more here

I have been using this service for some time and I cannot express enough how invaluable it has been/is to myself and my dependent son. When I say invaluable, what I more accurately mean is that it is the lifeline that I have never had from any other charity or organisation.

What makes CBS different is the level of tenacity and integrity that is upheld at all times. This equates to my being treated as a valid human, my voice is heard and respected; I am not just some statistic or box to tick and my son is always considered. I have never felt dismissed or patronised just because life has dealt us an onslaught of intense challenges which we have struggled with.

Without their support, I know the very possible reality that would have ensued. I can hardly bring myself to think about it. Thank you for keeping us afloat and for your ongoing support to slowly move toward to a better place. CB – Jun 4th 2019

When I first met Rowena I was in trouble both financially and personally.

Rowena and CBS were already involved with my mums finances, helping to keep the debtors under control whilst she was going through a particularly unpleasant divorce. I was struggling trying to fill the gaps between finances that were running out of control, barely making minimum payments despite working full time.

Rowena finally convinced me to let her have a look and within 2 meetings everything was under control. Yes I still owed the debt, but Rowena worked as an intermediary between myself and the debtors to put in place an affordable payment plan for me. She took all of the pressure off so I could focus on what’s important. I wasn’t getting phone calls and letters every other day reminding me of how much I owed and how much I was being charged etc etc. She even managed to get 1 company to remove some of the interest!

She also took another massive weight off my shoulders by giving my mum someone else to talk too about everything. She let my mum rant and rave, then would calm her down, talk her through it and within an hour everything was ok again. She was an external source of information, so my mum actually listened when she was talking. It sounds crazy but I’m pretty sure she saved my life and the lives of my family, between the counselling and financial advice. She was and is fantastic!

Fast forward 18 months, and I have actually got a small amount left over each month for the first time since I can remember. The payments are up to date and some accounts are closed already. I even have enough to consider taking the other half shopping. Haha.

In short, she turned my financial and personal life around in a small amount of time and I cannot ever thank her enough! Gregory Wilkinson – Mar 14th 2019

We had for some time been trying to keep our heads above water with our finances and because of past experiences we felt pretty traumatised and found ourselves struggling rather than ask for help and so this would of gone on with my husbands dread of forms and my fibromyelgia  leaving me in pain and very exhausted but as it happened the support group we attend for fibromyelgia told us about the Cornwall Befriending Service, now called Counselling And Benefit Support, a number of them had been helped by this service.

It has been a lifeline, Rowena Koning our counsellor has been so very kind understanding and supportive we  can`t thank her enough, she has led us through applying and getting Pension Credit which in turn led to a Counsel Tax reduction and this has made so much difference to our income and made us feel like we could finally draw breath, she has also put us in contact with South West  Water Community Energy Plus, this is a charity who help you to get the best value from your energy supplier.

We wish such a service as this had been around before when we needed help after our business burnt down, because this service is invaluable when you are traumatised and faced with a mountain of forms.

There is a lot of people who are in need and need a service like this and could do with this sort of help. Christine & Les Nicholls.

CBS has supported and assisted me no end for almost 4 years now. They have not only understood me and my conditions, but also my struggles and past position. They have helped come back from a domestically violent relationship as well as me endlessly with my Accommodation, Benefits, Bills, Debt, Forms and other Day-to-Day tasks; I find stressful and struggle to complete because of my Asperger’s and other learning difficulties.

If it were not for the support of CBS Limited, I would not be where I am now; back on my feet after some very hard years and moving forward with Life. I am about to start a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship at Falmouth University; which is something I could only of dreamed of. I feel that Counselling and Benefit Support Limited is an invaluable service, which deserves funding in order to help others like me. Thank you doesn’t cover it G Jarvis – 28th January 2019