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Table 3 Personal-level barriers to accessing services, themes with supporting quotes

From: Intersecting systemic and personal barriers to accessing social services: qualitative interviews in northern California


Supporting Quotes

Physical and mental health challenges

I still need help, not as far as the papers, but I need help because right now what’s going on with me - I guess my disability has run out and so now, because I’m an injured worker, I’ve already started filing for the Social Security Disability, but I need to be finding me a job that can work around my injury.Because my injury is with my hand, I lost like 48% of the use of my hands and my arms, and I was just retrained for the Dragon program, I need help with finding resources as far as the type of job I can work that doesn’t go against my restrictions. Female, English, No success

I really was not expecting anything because I was not right in my head.Female, English, Success

It’s still the same, still going through it.I haven’t been able to work because of the arthritis I got so it really messes me up.I try to do little things here and there to try and keep my body active, but it hurts doing those things.I can only do certain little things I can, and then after a minute it just hurts me and everything else like that, so I can only limit myself to what I can do.I’ve been talking to a lot of people, employers, and they’re like “we can’t hire you in your condition.When you get better, come back when you get better and everything else.”But it’s been two years and it hasn’t been better yet, so it’s kind of frustrating. Male, English, Success

Social isolation, and lack of social support

Oh, she listened and she gave me information after I told her about my case and stuff, and she said “oh, you probably qualify for this and that,” so she gave me the information and she mailed me some papers in the mail.But like I said, it’s hard for me to get help and I live here by myself plus my friend being at work, it’s mainly through the week that I need the services and stuff.And I can’t make it after work, they be closed. Female, English, No success

I don’t have a driver’s license....I have to wait when my daughter in law or my son, when they are available, but everybody is working. Saturday as you know, the county offices are closed, but the food pantries are open, so that is good. Female, English, Success

Lack of technology resources and computer illiteracy

I get food stamps, but I don’t get the money assistance because I don’t want to be one of those guys that sucks off the government, I want to find a job, I want to make my own way through this life, you know what I mean.. She gave me the Web address, but unfortunately because I’m so low on money, I’m just barely able to afford my phone so I get the lowest possible data plan possible so I run out of high speed Internet real quick, and a lot of the Web pages I try to load for doing applications just seem to halt for some reason... Male, English, No success

I checked out some of those ones, because I’m computer illiterate and some places where I could go to, just to sit down, just to get peace of mind and kind of learn how to get on the internet and stuff like that.That was very helpful for me because I had never been online before.Someone was trying to teach me a long time, I want to say 2011, but as they were teaching me, they fell off so I just didn’t even pursue it.Because when I would ask people, they would tell me, and I’m more was a hands on person when it comes to stuff like that.By her giving me that information I was able to go to the library and just get online and kind of breeze through places for rent and who was renting and what’s not, jobs and stuff like that.And it was really cool to get on the Internet, to go to the library. Female, English, no success

Financial limitations

I am a senior on very little income.I did use that some years back, 15, I don’t know, and it worked for me.But the YMCA is a business and they’re in the business of making money.So I did call them when I was looking for swimming lessons and they said they no longer do that.Because I have to have a membership, there’s no waiver for the membership which in my budget is beyond my ability. Female, English, Success

The only thing that didn’t work out with me was that I wanted to become a citizen, and she gave me the phone number for that and kept calling all those numbers, but there was nothing, I didn’t get anything.I didn’t have the kind of money, it’s about a thousand dollars to get to the citizenship things.I was trying to get some help there, and then I tried to call that girl, but she told me she was going to a different place or something, and I didn’t take any more help from there. Female, English, Success

Competing Priorities

Because when you’re dealing with emotional problems with doing practical things, if there’s one more person leaning on you to get it done, it’s not helpful for somebody like me.I don’t know what the answer is to getting them to get it done - extreme consequences like losing Medicaid.Obviously I was willing to lose food stamps for two months rather than turn around and get the paperwork done. Female, English, No success

Well, my car broke down so I’m waiting to get my car fixed, because I haven’t been able to do anything lately.My catalytic converter went out, and it’s really expensive and so I’m just waiting to get enough money.It’s sitting right in my driveway, stuck right in front of my front door.So I’m trying to get up the money to get that fixed.And then I can go out and do all the things that I want to do. Male, English, No success

I remember telling them about some of my bills, they were past due and I wanted to see if they could help me, especially the water bill at that time...I knew I was going to need them, definitely, but not at that point.I was in the hospital probably every day.Blood work, blood pressure check up, MRI, so I didn’t have time really to contact them or go to the clinic and look for them... Male, English, No success