Apr 20, 2017
We were made aware of a young Mum with two children, one of whom has been formally diagnosed with autism, but who also has special requirements regarding food. She'd been prepared for the holiday, but unfortunately a large amount of money left her account to pay a bill, earlier than she had budgeted for. They'd tried to get the payment stopped but it was too late, it had already left her account. This left her without money for food for herself and her two children, and the oldest child would be unable to eat the food she could get hold of from the local foodbank. We agreed to send across £60 to tide her over until her next payment of Employment Support Allowance, reached her bank account.
Apr 4, 2017
We were told about a family, who having got into rent arrears were being taken to court for eviction from their home. The debt had happened because the lady in question, a single mum, had been sanctioned a number of times through no fault of her own. This sanction meant that her housing benefit and council tax relief had stopped being paid, hence the debt. A fundraiser was put together by another party and raised over £900 to pay off the arrears, we stepped in and sent over £100. The total sum raised will be paid to clear the arrears, and it had been agreed if this happened within the time frame, then the eviction notice would not be enforced and they would be allowed to stay.
Apr 3, 2017
We were approached about a mother who has been struggling for some time on Job Seekers Allowance, to deal with all her household bills, and each time she falls behind, then fees get added, or a court summons is sought, which just keeps making the financial hole she's found herself in, deeper and deeper, with seemingly no way out. Plus money is then deducted from her JSA, which leaves even less money to live off than she was struggling on before. So you see it really was a bottomless pit, and she was close to a nervous breakdown. She has the support of a friend, who is doing what they can, plus the agency that approached us for help.
They requested help with payment to apply for a Debt Relief Order, which we agreed to so that this lady can find her way out of this situation and begin to rebuild a life for her and her son. We also sent an extra amount so that they could buy some much needed food (they'd been surviving on food from the food banks, as they'd no money left for food), and a small treat for them both.
Mar 16, 2017
We were approached about a man in his 50s, with complex mental health issues. He lives in a caravan in quite a remote area, not easily able to access public transport. His van needs gas bottles to provide fuel for the heating and for cooking. He had no money to pay for this, nor for electricity, food or fuel for his motorbike he uses to get into town. We agreed to send across £150 to allow him to purchase a bottle of gas (£52), to put some money on to his electricity meter and buy some food. He is being supported to get his application for Personal Independence Payment put through again, as he lost his award of PIP when he failed the transition from Disability Living Allowance.
Mar 7, 2017
We were approached about a lady who had worked for the past 30 years, and had, as we mostly do, come to rely on her usual money coming in each month. She'd suffered with depression for a while, but it was becoming more and more difficult to ignore and carry on, so she ended up unable to continue with her job. This left her signing on for Employment Support Allowance, and at the moment she is only on the pre-assessment rate of £73.10 per week. She and her 18 year old son, currently on a full time course and unable to claim any benefits in his own name are trying to exist on this meagre sum.
Sadly her debts were building up, and although she was trying to keep everyone happy by paying here and there where she could, it had all become too much. This is where we stepped in and we have sent across a cheque for £90 to the agency that are supporting her, so that she can apply for a debt relief order, together with £80 directly to them, so that they can have £40 each to go towards food and energy payments.
Feb 23, 2017
Today we sent across £100 to help a newly single mother, with two children, each of whom have health issues. The mum does all she can to support and take care of her children, but all her benefits payments she was receiving were in joint names. Her husband leaving her and the children though means that there have been issues with the payments being made, and has messed up her housing benefit payments too. She is now receiving support to get her benefits reinstated. The money we sent will go towards putting some credit on her gas and electric meters and purchase some food for her and the children. When her husband left, the Police became involved and the Crown Prosecution Service are now looking to take the matter further, so hopefully our help today will remove a little of the stress for her.
Feb 23, 2017
Today our agent told us of a lady who has been homeless in the past and has lived in homeless shelters. She was finally offered a permanent place to live, but in order to be able to move in she had to clear some outstanding arrears. She did this using her Employment Support Allowance payments, but by doing so this left her without any money for food, cleaning materials, or money to put on her gas and electric meters. She has Chron's Disease, so has to have a careful diet to stay on top of it. We agreed to send £100, so that she could put £15 on each of her gas and electric meters, and the remaining £70 to buy food to stock up with, as well as some cleaning materials.
Feb 23, 2017
We were contacted about a lady who had returned her completed Employment Support Allowance (ESA) forms to the DWP as requested. She didn't though send them recorded delivery, which she later regretted when the DWP claimed not to have received them. She discovered this when her ESA payments stopped without warning. This went on for a while as last month she had to borrow enough money to be able to pay her bills and buy food. She had sensibly sought a nil income form from her local authority to cover her rent and council tax payments. Eventually the DWP 'found' the forms and agreed that her payments would be reinstated, however they then cancelled them again just a few days later and she is still in the midst of trying to understand why this has happened or for the DWP to be able to explain why, as they don't appear to know why either.
As she is completely without money and needs to buy food, top up her gas and electric meters and buy some medical items we agreed to send across £100, which will hopefully tide her over until the DWP can reinstate her payments again.
Feb 21, 2017
We were approached regarding a young mum, a single parent, who was struggling with ill health herself and taking care of her two teenaged daughters, both of them suffering with aspergers, behavioural problems and suicide attempts. Both girls are in receipt of DLA, but one of whom was refused DLA on renewal of the award. This is currently being appealed. Losing that DLA award has had a knock on effect on her tax credits payments, with those being stopped and she has not had any money through since last November. Tax Credits have decided that there has been an overpayment as the Mum was late notifying them of the DLA stopping, so her Tax Credits payments have been halted until April 2017. We agreed to send across £100 as we found out that her rent and council tax payments were still being covered.
Feb 17, 2017
We came across a man with mental and physical health issues. He'd been refused Employment Support Allowance back in August last year and forced to apply for Job Seekers Allowance. Unfortunately his mental health had worsened and he'd developed bronchitis which had left him unable to leave his home, and on some days his bed even. His adviser at his local Job Centre Plus was insisting he attend the job centre every single day which was not possible for him to achieve. He reapplied for ESA, and was immediately rejected for that, but they also stopped his JSA as well. Instead of investigating his current claim of ill health, they have used the assessment carried out last year all over again (where they rejected him then) and basically ignored any new information he has submitted.
We agreed to send him £100 as he had no food, or any credit on his gas or electric meters. He has sought the help of Citizens Advice to request a Mandatory Reconsideration, to get his ESA reinstated, or for them to at least assess him properly. He also has a local to him advocacy service that are going to come out to visit him this week to try to help arrange some support with his benefits.
Feb 9, 2017
We were approached about a young man, who had previously been street homeless but was now in accommodation, safe and dry. However, his crippling depression and anxiety moved in with him and things have got on top of him. His finances had got out of control and after paying his bills, his remaining money was sucked up by his bank overdraft, leaving him and his dog without food, or any money for the gas and electricity meters. We agreed to send across a sum of £80 to allow him to top up his meters and buy some much needed food. Also, he was supposed to have been previously supported in terms of financial budgeting, but this will now be taken over by a new agency that will fully support him going forward.
Feb 8, 2017
We were contacted today by an agency that are working with a man suffering with anxiety and depression. He had got himself into some quite serious debt and had effectively switched off to it all, shoving his head in the sand. He hadn't claimed any benefits at all for the past two years, relying instead on family who had been putting him up and feeding him. These debts have begun to catch up with him and the relentless letters chasing the debts are only serving to increase his anxiety and feed his depression. The agency are now in the process of helping him to apply for employment support allowance, and seek much needed medical help. They are also helping him deal with his debts, urging him to apply for a debt relief order, as he has no assets or savings. Unfortunately, though with no money to his name he is unable to raise the £90 needed to pay for the fees for the order. We agreed that by sending the money across to cover this, it would allow him to have some relief from stress and begin to rebuild his life again.
Jan 25, 2017
We became aware of a family, parents and their four children that were being supported by a local to them welfare rights group. The father had been in receipt of Employment Support Allowance, receiving the basic assessment rate of £73.10 per week. He had been trying to get his wife added to this claim but they were having issues with her national insurance number, so that had not been possible and in fact this meagre amount had been stopped so they were without any money at all. They are being supported to get this resolved and to get Child Tax Credits put into place as soon as possible so that they might have enough money to survive on. We agreed in the interim until the DWP could restart the payments to send across £100 to help them.
Jan 10, 2017
We were contacted about a 60 year old man who had been kicked off Employment Support Allowance (ESA) despite being not well enough to work. He had with help submitted a request for a Mandatory Reconsideration (where the DWP Decision Makers look at the assessment data again) but that too had been refused. All his benefits payments had been stopped and could not be reinstated until an appeal has been lodged. In normal circumstances you would claim Job Seekers allowance while you wait to hear the outcome of the appeal and if it has been accepted to go to tribunal. We agreed to send across £100 to keep him going until his appeal can be lodged and accepted.
Jan 9, 2017
Our agents told us of a lady, that although she owned her own home and wasn't therefore claiming Housing Benefit (there is a claim for council tax relief though), she was unable to afford to pay for any heating in her home at all. Her hot water was heated using the gas boiler, so without gas, there was no heat nor hot water for washing even. The lady is in the process of applying for a Mandatory Reconsideration of her Employment Support Allowance, which she was kicked off after her last assessment and forced to claim Job Seekers Allowance while this is being looked at*. We agreed to send across £50 to top up her gas and electricity meters so she could at least have some heat again.
*Currently when a person is assessed for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) a large number of people are refused, even if they had been claiming ESA before. You cannot claim ESA without a fit (sick) note from your doctor, so your own doctor deems you sick/disabled/mentally unwell enough to not be working, yet individuals are still refused ESA. Their only alternative is to apply for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), while they apply for a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) where a Decision Maker at the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) looks at the claim again. If the first decision is overturned, then the claimant can be put back on to ESA, and any monies due to them is paid, less the amount they have been paid in JSA. There are currently no guidelines as to how long a MR can take, and it can be weeks. Many times the case is overturned at the MR stage, if that fails, then the claimant has the right to take the matter to Tribunal, where a great many of the cases are overturned, and the claimaint is then paid what is owed to them, again, minus the amount they've been paid in Job Seekers Allowance. Many of these claimants would not be safe to be employed in a work situation, for their own sakes and others around them, yet the DWP states they are when they are refused ESA.
There is a great deal on TV in the UK where those on disability or out of work benefits are demonised. Yes, you will see individuals that 'milk' the system, but those individuals are few and far between. Many people stuck at home, looking at four walls on disability benefits would love to be able to go out to work again and miss that work environment. To have individuals like that on TV though, wouldn't 'up the ratings' for the TV producers, so they go with the sensationalised cases instead, and quite possibly edit the programmes to make things look even worse than they really are. Many illnesses are invisible, just because a person doesn't look sick, doesn't mean they aren't. Many people put a brave face on depression, not wanting to drag others down to that pit of despair they find themselves in, because knowing how bad it feels for them, they wouldn't wish that on their worst enemy.
So please, be kind, you are not walking in that person's shoes and don't necessarily know how they feel.
Dec 22, 2016
Our agent made us aware of a man, homeless with only the clothes he was stood up in. He suffers with PTSD, depression and anxiety. Currently he is able to stay with a friend. He failed an ESA work capability assessment and while requesting a mandatory reconsideration he attempted to apply for Job Seekers but he was unable to fulfill the job search obligations due to his mental health issues. He has reapplied for ESA with a new diagnosed condition, but this is failing because he is unable to supply the DWP with a fit (sick) note as his doctor is too far away from where he is currently able to stay. His anxiety won't allow him to travel via public transport and he does not have the money to be able to afford a taxi to get there. He had with the help of our agent applied for financial assistance from his local welfare support, but with the Christmas closures it is unlikely it would happen in time and also might not happen anyhow, due to previously being supported this way. We agreed to send across £100 to allow him to get to his doctors and get the fit note and to have some money to buy some food and clothing.
Dec 22, 2016
Our agent had been in touch with a lady and her family that had been suddenly evicted from their home because they had complained about the condition of their property. Absestos had been found in the property and was open to the inside of the property. They had had a bad time anyhow with their landlord, who had been harrassing them as well. They used all their benefits money and the small amount of savings they had to move and pay for a replacement cooker. We agreed to send across £100 to help them get through until their next payment benefit is due. Our agent also has advised them to seek some advice regarding the eviction as it does sound as if it is an illegal eviction.
Dec 20, 2016
Our agent made us aware of a single mum with a teenaged daughter. This lady has been refused ESA three times, been all the way to tribunal and still been refused. However whenever she attempts to sign on for Job Seekers she is refused as they say she is too ill to fulfill their obligations. So caught between a rock and a hard place she only has child benefit and child tax credits for them both to live off, as she has also been refused PIP too. With little or no money to pay for food, gas or electric, she and her daughter have been living off food vouchers given by a local to them organisation. We agreed that we should send across £200 to help her out at such a difficult time.
Dec 16, 2016
Our agent told of us a man who had sent his Fit Note to the DWP to fulfill his Employment Support Allowance (ESA) obligation, but it was not received. The first he knew of this was when his payment did not arrive in his bank account as he expected it to. As they hadn't received the fit note, his ESA payments had stopped leaving him without money for gas, electric or food. He phoned the DWP who has requested that he sends a replacement fit note, and having done that his payments should begin again next week. In the meantime we sent across £50 so he could top up his gas and electric meters and buy some food.
Dec 12, 2016
Our agent told us of a lady who had missed a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) because she was very ill with glandular fever and was hightly contagious, so unable to attend. The assessor and DWP found her fit for work though, so she was kicked off ESA. She has a young son, so is in receipt of child tax credits and child benefit, but that is all. Her council tax and housing benefit was being looked into, to get that reinstated, as the ESA stopping will have informed her local authority, so her housing benefit will have stopped, along with the counci tax relief. This all happening has caused the lady to have panic attacks as her anxiety levels have been stressed beyond belief. We agreed we would send across £150 to help her and hopefully ease some of her fears that her son might be taken from her if she is seen as being unable to feed him adequately.
After she had received the money, this was her reply "I'm lost for words I've gone from suicidal to hopeful in seconds - I can't thank you enough xx I just can't believe it, please pass on my massive thanks it means more than just the money, I was ready to give up xx"
Nov 29, 2016
We became aware of a man in his late 50s who had been forced to leave his previous job as a carer as his health was so poor, with a long list of physical ailments. He applied for ESA but was unsuccessful and forced into claiming Job Seekers instead. He is keen to try to find some employment as he feels this will help improve his mental health, but trying to get back into employmentt means interviews and suitable clothing. We made them aware of the flexible fund which is set up for purposes such as this. As we began to find out more about this man we realised that life had dealt him many unfortunate blows. It was decided that the fund should send him £50 as an exercise in hope. When you are struggling so much, just to survive, finding any spare money to even buy a shirt becomes nigh on impossible, so hopefully this will allow him to see that there are people that do care.
Nov 1, 2016
Having just got off the phone to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) this woman found out that they had stopped all her Employment Support Allowance payments, stating she had capital in the bank and wasn't seen to be in need. She tried to explain, this capital, a small inheritance following in the death of her Father was several years ago and none of it was left now, she had nothing in fact. They wouldn't listen though and her benefits were stopped regardless, meaning she had nothing at all to live off. This, unsurprisingly had left the poor woman distraught and stating she felt suicidal. We were assured though that she'd promised she would not act on these feelings.
We agreed, following the news that there was some local support in her area, that we would send £100 to purchase much needed food, with the option of a revist of a further £100 if that was seen to be necessary.
Oct 30, 2016
A young mother, married with two children attended her work capability assessment, after losing her full time employment due to her disabilities, no longer being able, in their opinion, to do her job. So her employer considers her unfit to work, yet the ESA (Employment Support Allowance) assessor felt differently and found her fit for work. This lady's husband had quit his job in order to care for her and so consequently their tax credits payments had ceased. The whole family were relying on the pre-assessment rate of ESA and child benefits payments to survive on. Now they were reduced to the child benefit only. A nil income form from their Council will help with the rent and council tax (which will have stopped due to the ESA being stopped). A local support group have stepped in to help guide them through the maze of requesting a Mandatory Reconsideration on this decision. She put in a request to apply for Job Seekers Allowance and turned up at the due time to sign on, only to be told that her appointment had been missed as it was a different time to that which she was told.
We as a group decided that something needed to happen and quickly, so we agreed to send them £150 to purchase food for the family.
Oct 24, 2016
When a claimant fails to be awarded PIP, you'd think that might be a straightforward thing to happen, but not at all. You see an award of PIP entitles and leads the way to other benefits help, which when PIP is not awarded, they simply fall away. The lady in question, a double amputee, with a serious illness on top of that, had applied to transition from DLA, Disability Living Allowance, which she had been in receipt of for some years, to PIP, Personal Independence Payment, which the Government brought in to replace DLA. (There is no choice in the matter, once you are 'invited' to apply for PIP, you cannot choose not to do that and remain in receipt of DLA. Once your invitation date has passed, your DLA payments stop). Increasingly we are seeing more and more seriously ill and disabled people, dependent on specially adapted vehicles, as was the case with this lady, having their cars taken away from them. This for her means that as well as the money she'd come to rely on to survive, her means of getting out of the house will be gone, so she will become housebound. She is appealing that decision thankfully, but as it takes so long to be resolved, it is highly likely that her specially adapted car will have to go back before she can get this resolved. This week she and her family are being fed by her friends that have stepped up to help her, and next week it would be the foodbanks for help. We agreed to send her £100 so she could buy some much needed food and other items, for which she was extremly grateful.