Oct 2, 2017
We were approached about a man in his early 30s who is desperately struggling to keep his head above water financially. He is in receipt of Universal Credit but has been sanctioned because he missed some appointments. He has severe mental health problems, which get in the way of him keeping his appointments. The property he is in is his first property in his own name, as he grew up in the care system, then was in supported housing of one kind or another. In his property he nly has a table and a sofa to his name. He lives alone, has no family to support him and was recently attacked by a gang which has only heightened his anxieties. He has rent arrears, debts and utiliity arrears too which our agents are going to help him try to get sorted out. They discovered he has had no money for two weeks, so has been unable to purchase any food, so all he has been living on is a box of Weetos per week, allowing himself two handfulls a day. Our agents sorted him out a food voucher, but asked for some money from us to help him. His bank account was £38 overdrawn, so we sent across £100 to cover his overdraft and allow him enough money to buy some food which will hopefully last him until they can appeal his sanction and sort his benefits payments out.
Sep 20, 2017
We had a rather odd request. Our agent asked us if we could assist a man they are helping with £50 to pay for a letter from his doctor, stating his medical conditions and how they affect him so that the letter could be sent to the courts for his forthcoming tribunal hearing. Normally at a disability hearing a doctor has to be present, but this is not an ordinary tribunal, and one that a doctor is not routinely there because they don't normally consider medical needs at this type of tribunal. The young man, 26 years old has been diagnosed with MS, along with a whole host of other conditions. He had to be sent a good distance from his home for treatment, which he did, but he didn't react too well so was unable to travel home, let alone the further 15 miles from where he normally lives to attend the meeting. As he failed to show, they suspended/sanctioned his benefits, ignoring his medical situation completely that rendered him unable to be present. Our agents are very confident that this letter will allow the tribunal to understand completely his failure to attend, and will reinstate his benefits payments.
Sep 12, 2017
We were approached about a mum who needed help for her daughter. The mother who is currently being sanctioned on her benefits, was unable to provide a suitable school uniform for the child. The knock on from this is that the child had missed a lot of her schooling last term as the mother had kept her off school. Our agents asked us to pay for a main set of uniform for her, which we did and actually placed an order with the local school uniform supplier and arranged for the mother to call by to collect this, so we could be certain the money was used for its intended purpose.
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 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 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.
Jun 16, 2017
We were contacted about a man who suffers with chronic anxiety who has been kicked off Employment Support Allowance, forced into applying for Job Seekers instead, and is now moved again, this time on to Universal Credit. However he is subject to sanctions by the DWP which can be for reasons as simple as being held up and arriving late to sign on for example. He is now on his fourth benefit sanction, is desperate for food, but has used up all his entitlement to food bank vouchers. He also cannot get another welfare emergency payment from his council for another 12 months. He has another month to run on his latest benefit sanction, so we agreed to send across £100 to tide him over until his benefits can restart again.
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.