Aug 10, 2017
We have been contacted in this past week by organisations that are working with individuals to resolve their issues, as in each case they have been sanctioned for failing to attend a meeting. This is an awful outcome as simply missing an appointment, such as a bus being late, a date being forgotten (also don't forget, if you have mental health issues, then getting yourself up out of bed is like fighting a daily battle, let alone remembering an appointment), or even worse the claimant not being notified of the appointment to even be able to attend it. The knock on from a benefit sanction is usually the housing benefit and council tax relief payments also being stopped, it just goes on and on leading eventually to the threat of eviction. People who are struggling to keep body and soul together then have to 1) become aware of the situation, and 2) find help. This is a further hurdle for many that struggle with social interaction, agoraphobia, or more. Our agents are now faced with trying to get these individuals benefits restored, as well as their housing benefit and council tax relief. In each case we sent £100 to help them out, to have money for food, and in one case some essential clothes, until their benefits are restored.
Aug 9, 2017
We were approached by our agents who are frantically trying to help a single mum with three children. She suffers badly with mental health issues and failed to attend JSA appointment, and consequently her JSA payments stopped, which then meant she lost her housing and council tax benefit. This has resulted in her being served with an eviction notice for the 17th of this month. Our agents have got her housing and council tax benefits payments reinstated and they are hopeful that this will frustrate the eviction notice, which could then be cancelled. She has to do a rapid reclaim for JSA, and has an appointment for this Friday. She currently has no money at all to buy food for her or her children. We agreed to send across £100 to tide her over until her JSA payments can begin again.
Aug 3, 2017
A case we were approached about recently is very sad. Our contact has been supporting this man for some time. He has been living on the streets for a very long time, alcohol dependent, which many people are in that position, trying to blot out their feelings, so all they feel is numb. He has been in hostels for a long time and has finally been offered a real place to live. He is existing on the absolute basic level of Universal Credit, and has been coping with a sanction on his benefits for the past three months, as he was late for an appointment at the job centre. This happens so easily, it just needs lack of a bus fare and having to walk all the way there, sometimes several miles, or the bus not turning up to make a person late. Sadly the reasons why are often not considered and a sanction is slapped into place. This leaves a person with absolutely no money at all to buy food. So this man has been relying on foodbanks, and the people at the flats where he lives who have been sharing with him their own meagre supplies. His support worker was going through his financial statement with him, based on his payments being back in place and she commented that things must be really hard for him trying to manage. He explained that he didn't need much, but what he wanted to do would be to get out and walk more as it would help him cope and feel much better about himself, but he cannot afford to buy himself any shoes, nor see himself able to save up enough to buy any. So she approached us to ask if we could help him. We all agreed to help him, and sent over £50 to enable him to buy some decent trainers that would last him, and any left over he could use towards buying some food.
Jul 28, 2017
Our agent contacted us about a woman who frustrated with the lack of support in her area took it upon herself to fight her alcohol addiction. Doing this on her own meant that she missed an appointment with the Job Centre so they sanctioned her. This meant that her rent and council tax support also stopped being paid, the result of which is that she now faces eviction due to arrears of £320. As she was so ill due to the alcohol detoxing she was unable to seek support until now. Our agent has intervened on her behalf and sought assurance that if £200 could be raised would she be certain of being able to remain in her home. They will try to get some help with the rest from the council as it should have been possible for her to submit a nil income form to the council and have her rent and council tax covered, which would have prevented the arrears. We agreed to send over the money needed to allow her to keep her home. We didn't want to have her back out on the streets again, where it would be highly likely she'd be tempted by alcohol again, given how hard she has worked so far to get herself off it.
Jul 24, 2017
We were contacted about a young man that had been sanctioned on his Job Seekers payments because he failed to attend a Job Centre Interview, the reason he missed it was because he was in hospital. This meant his only source of income stopped so he was without money for food, gas or electric. We were asked for £60 to keep him going until his sanction could be reversed, and he can be transferred onto Employment Support Allowance, rather that Job Seekers.
Jul 19, 2017
Our Client is a lady who failed her ESA Assessment in April and was consequently found fit for work. Her mental health is not good, and when she phoned up the DWP to query this, she believed she was doing the Mandatory Reconsideration for her ESA assessment, but they told her it had to be done in writing (which is not true), unfortunately this didn't happen and so her assessment wasn't reconsidered. She has been claiming Job Seekers the past few week, but is really struggling and attempted suicide four weeks ago. She lives with her son who is in his late teens, and he himself has also failed his ESA assessment, so has no income whatsoever, so she is struggling to keep them both on the tiny amount she has coming in. The last payment she received, it all went on food and electricity and she is fast running out and won't have enough to last them both until when she receives her next payment. We sent over £100 to tide them over.
Jul 11, 2017
Our agents approached us about a single parent of three they are helping. She is recovering from a domestic violence situation and last year unfortunately was the one that discovered her brother dead. This has triggered her PTSD and has resulted in her almost giving up and not opening her mail. This action, or lack of has resulted in her discovering she is now under threat of eviction and she has missed two appointments for Work Capability Assessments for ESA. She is receiving help and support with this, being forced into claiming JSA while she waits the outcome of her ESA appeal. Her benefits are already subject to deductions and she is now without any money until the end of the week to buy food to feed her and her three children. We agreed to send her £50 to tide her over until Friday.
Jul 10, 2017
A Grandmother in her early 50s who takes care of her Grandson full time had to give up working following a diagnosis of COPD and heart failure. She was in receipt of ESA, but was scored zero points at her assessment, despite being awarded PIP. Our agents were speaking to her on the phone and were trying to reassure her as she was in tears. She could apply for Job Seekers while she appeals the ESA decision but was very worried that her poor health would go against her. This was made worse by the fact that she had dipped into an unarranged overdraft, so when her PIP payment arrived in her account, she was hit by charges too, so she was still overdrawn. We agreed we would send across £200 so she could clear the overdraft to prevent further charges and would leave her with some money to buy food for her and her Grandson. Our agents phoned her up to tell her our decision and she was in floods of tears on the phone.
Jun 26, 2017
We were urgently contacted regarding a man that our agents had been helping with applying for Job Seekers Allowance. He has been homeless, so relying on being able to sofa surf, and his belongings all fit into a backpack. He was suddenly taken ill with a haemorrhage and airlifted to hospital. He has no money, and now no clothes at all, so we were asked if we could provide some funds to allow some underwear to be bought for him for while he is in hospital, some funds to allow his mother, who has no spare money herself to be able to visit him, and also to get some clothing for him for when he finally leaves hospital. His own clothing will have been destroyed on arrival at hospital. We agreed to send across £100 to cover all of this, plus to allow him enough money to travel home after release from hospital and buy some food for himself.
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.
Feb 8, 2017
We were contacted by an organisation that needed a small amount of help with a young man whose only companion is his cat that has lived with him for several years. Unfortunately his cat had come home with fleas, which were now making themselves at home in the house. He needed some money to be able to purchase a decent flea treatment for the cat, and something to use in the house to get rid of the fleas before it became a serious infestation. He is on Job Seekers Allowance at the moment, as his previous criminal record has meant that although he's turned his life around, finding employment is proving difficult. He could afford to make sure the cat was fed on his Job Seekers money, but there was not enough to get the flea treatment. The treatment was purchased on his behalf and delivered to him, along with a contribution of some food.
Jan 28, 2017
So today we helped a lady living on her own. She had been in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and as she receives Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and no one claims carers allowance for her, then she was entitled to be paid a Severe Disability Premium (SDP). Her PIP is still in payment, however at her last face to face assessment, the assessor rushed her through the assessment and wouldn't allow her to elaborate on any of her questions, telling her to hurry up and just answer yes or no! So despite she has PIP in payment, because she was considered by a different assessor to be in need of additional help, this assessor for her ESA felt differently and contradicted the previous assessor and found her fit for work. The consequences of this decision was that her money went down considerably as she lost the ESA and the SDP, and had to sign on for Job Seekers, despite the fact that she is too poorly to work. When we came across her, she told us she was having to stay in bed because it was the only way she could keep warm as she couldn't afford to top up her meters, or buy any food. We sent across a small sum of money to help tide her over until her advance payment of JSA could be made. We gave her some contact details of places she could go to on Monday in her local area to get some help in appealing this dreadful and quite stupid decision.
She later told us this:
Because of what you did with your kindness today, I have realised there are people out there that care and can help, I thought I was alone. I'm going to check out the links you sent me and get some help. I realise now it is okay to ask for help. I need help with a lot of things but I'm now going to ask for it in future. I thought if I ignored the problem long enough it would go away, but it didn't. Your help to me today truly has made a massive difference.
Dec 24, 2016
We were told about a family, Mum, Dad and a 4 year old. Dad had lost his job and needed to sign on for Job Seekers, which he did. However the Job Centre told them that he'd not begin to receive any benefit payments until the 10th January! They'd been relying on foodbanks and were facing Christmas Day with a few items of tinned food in the cupboards and some odd bits in the freezer. Not only food, but they had heating to pay for too. If you are on pay as you go electric and gas meters the cost of these can be quite excessive. This lady said her all electrically heated home costs £20 every three days.
We agreed to send across £150 to help them have a better Christmas and some food for the cupboards until their first JSA payment comes through.
Dec 23, 2016
Our agents told us about a family, the father out of work, as was the two teenaged children, and the wife is disabled with breathing difficulties. Our agents helped them to sign on for Job Seekers as they have been unable to get any agency work for the past few weeks. One of the sons was working a zero hour contract in a high street store, but after falling unwell and offering a fit (sick) note, he was sacked leaving him without employment. When the father tried to sign on for Job Seekers he was told this would not be possible as his wife is disabled and not fit for work. Our agents are trying to get this resolved and for him to be able to sign on to JSA. In the meantime, they need some food so we agreed to send across £150 to tide them over until the New Year.
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.
May 24, 2014
Gosh, it’s been a while since we wrote one of these! While we’ve not been writing, though, we’ve not been idle.
Here is a story from each month this year so far that touched our hearts.
Mrs W’s son had his JSA sanctioned – because he had just been diagnosed with cancer and missed an appointment, despite calling them beforehand to explain that he couldn’t attend. Sadly his cancer spread and, on advising the job centre that he was now receiving intensive chemotherapy, they took him off JSA and said he wasn’t entitled to anything else, leaving him with nothing for over a month – over Christmas, no less. He was later helped to fill in an ESA claim, which was still pending when we found his mum. We gave him £120 to tide him over until his income was reinstated, as well as offering our usual practical support.
Ms S, a disabled lady on basic benefits who was very good at budgeting them, fell foul of an internet scam, which took funds from her bank account without permission (we asked for more details, and this was something any one of us could have been taken in by). The bank were looking into it, with a view to refunding her in time, but her bills were about to go out by direct debit the next day, leaving her overdrawn with bank charges on top if that happened. She had already gotten excellent advice on fraud and contacting the bank from friends, so we sent her £100 to cover the shortfall in her bank, with a little extra to show that not everyone on the internet is a bad egg.
D was sanctioned for not doing enough on his work search. He was actually doing more than the law requires. His girlfriend W suffered the same fate the following month. Because they didn’t know about the nil declaration for Housing Benefit (and no-one at the Job Centre bothered to tell them) they fell into £1500 rent arrears with the threat of court. W was terrified of court and brought to tears by the thought of it. One of our agents assisted with the Nil income housing benefit claim, which cleared most of the rent arrears. We gave them a gift to clear the rest in full.
Mr J, a disabled man with a young child, was found fit for work. His ESA was stopped, leaving him and his son with only £20 a week to live on. We sent him £100 so he and his son could be well fed for a few weeks. Another good job jobbed.
Ms D was very concerned that her son, who has mental health problems and physical disabilities, would join the ever growing list of suicides linked to welfare reform. His ESA was stopped for over a month and a reconsideration turned him down, saying his conditions did not qualify, even though he was often unable to care for himself and suffered from hallucinations and delusions. We put him in touch with practical help, and gave a gift of £200 to assist with a backlog of bills and rent that were stacking up, giving him some space to get the help he needs, and his mum some peace of mind.