The people we help

In 2020, we helped 1,085 people and supported 1,233 cases. Here are some examples of the people we have helped and how we have helped them

Jack*’s Story:
Jack completed an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) form himself, attended the medical assessment and was awarded 0 points. He said the Healthcare Professional would not listen to his answers and the report did not reflect what he said. We provided Jack with emergency support, including foodbank vouchers and emergency cash, whilst also advocating on his behalf with the Job Centre to get ESA reinstated pending appeal.

We then attended a second medical assessment with Jack following his application for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). On a number of occasions during the assessment, we intervened to ensure Jack was given a fair chance to respond to questions in his own time. Post assessment Jack mentioned that was a very different experience and the outcome of the PIP application was enhanced daily living and increased mobility.

This not only demonstrates the impact of our casework, it also reinforces the need for significant change in the system to ensure that people who are in need of state benefits can navigate the system without relying on advice agencies, which are already working with limited resources.

“Z2k helped me gain confidence and believe in myself again as DWP disregarded my evidences before and with Z2K and representation i was more confident after winning my appeal. Thank you”

Gino*’s Story:
Gino started working with Z2K in September 2019, he and his family had been evicted from their private rented flat due to rent arrears. Gino was affected by the benefit cap and did not receive enough Universal Credit to cover his rent, eventually his local authority accepted a duty to house Gino and his family but they were placed in temporary accommodation in outer London. Gino is now working with a housing solicitor to complete a suitability review in the hope he can be placed nearer his mother who he has caring commitments for as well as his children’s school.

Our caseworker started working with Gino again during the Covid-19 pandemic, Gino had had to stop his self-employed work in the hospitality sector, he was struggling to pay for essentials for the family with all 3 of his children at home and was worried that he would be benefit capped again and face arrears in his temporary accommodation. We arranged for help from a hardship fund to pay for supermarket vouchers and an outstanding phone bill for Gino. We then liaised with the Housing Benefit department in Gino’s local authority, because Gino was living in temporary accommodation the Housing Benefit used to pay for this would not be used to calculate his overall benefit for the purposes of assessing the benefit cap. This meant that Gino’s benefits would not exceed the benefit cap and he would continue to receive Universal Credit without deductions.

We then started looking at Gino’s Universal Credit statements, Gino was having deductions taken out for advance repayments and gas and electricity monthly payments and arrears. We realised that Gino was having too much deducted from his Universal Credit award each month to pay back his advances, we got in touch with the DWP debt management department to amend Gino’s Universal Credit account to reflect the true balance he needed to pay back, spreading payments over 12 months so they were more affordable. Gino told our caseworker that the money deducted for gas and electricity was for the property he’d been evicted from, Gino was still making monthly payments for this as well as arrears repayments despite no longer living in the property. We got in touch with Gino’s old gas and electricity supplier to stop the deductions and reimburse Gino for any overpayments.

Gino raised several other issues with us, his washing machine had stopped working and he was finding it incredibly hard to home school his three young daughters without access to laptops. We applied for a local support payment with the local authority which had housed Gino to pay for a replacement washing machine, this application was successful and the washing machine was delivered within a week of the application being made. We also managed to source 2 new laptops for Gino’s daughters from the Children in Need Family Fund and through funding Z2K was provided by the London Hostels Association for digital inclusion. Anna is continuing to work with Gino as he challenges a Work Capability Assessment decision via Z2K’s tribunal’s project. Gino is hoping to secure more work through self-employment in the hospitality sector now that the economy is reopening.

‘Thank you so much for your help thus far. The washing machine came over the weekend and has made such a huge difference already. We also used the vouchers for Asda and have a full fridge’

Liam*’s Story:
Liam came to our wrap around project having found himself with a large energy bill debt. Liam had an extremely difficult upbringing having been in and out of foster care which ultimately led to him being homeless for a number of years previously. Liam experienced an extreme amount of trauma throughout his life which led to a wide range of issues.

When Liam first contacted us, he was in a relatively secure housing situation however, was lacking in support and struggled with communicating with people. Liam would become very anxious during our meetings, not providing us with much information and he was not comfortable with eye contact. During out time with Liam he began to disclose more information to us and enjoyed having regular contact with people.

He began getting in touch with his family and is now in contact with two of his siblings who he previously did not speak to. The consistency we were able to provide for Liam allowed him to redevelop his ability to trust and open up to new experiences. By the end of our 12 week program with Liam, his volunteer had been successful in obtaining a grant of almost £2,000 to cover the debt and had  a smart meter installed in order to better manage the utility bills going forward.

“Z2K provided me with an invaluable service and I would defiantly recommend Z2K to friends.”

Fatema*’s Story:
Fatema was referred to Z2K as the local authority had discharged her into the private rented sector (PRS), because she was considered intentionally homeless. However, she was street homeless and in a wheelchair, which reduced the chances of suitable accommodation and increased the urgency to get her housed.

Our PRS caseworker worked with the Benefits Caseworker to continue to put pressure on the local authority to re-accept a duty of care. We advocated on her behalf, accompanied her to social services and housing options. After two unsuccessful attempts, we persuaded the council to grant temporary accommodation; she is now referred to another agency to push for permanent accommodation.

This is typical of what we achieve by working collaboratively across our different projects, having tenacity, developing strong links with council staff so we can persuade and try different routes in, and most importantly, by being passionate about what we do and achieve.

“I have hope now, I was feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.”

Abeo*’s Story:
Abeo is a 32 year old man who came to the UK as a refugee. He approached Z2K for advice on Universal Credit, but our Client Support Caseworker identified that he had a number of other needs – he had been a victim of torture and has health problems – so we helped him apply for Personal Independence Payment.

His caseworker also helped him have a Council Tax Support application backdated as he had received a summons for non-payment despite being entitled to full Council Tax Support on account of his low income Abeo made a homeless application and was placed in temporary accommodation, but he had very few belongings so the Support Caseworker applied for a hardship fund to provide him with basics like a kettle, a microwave, and some bedding. He found this particularly helpful, saying: “Providing me with the microwave was actually quite key. I do remember them every time I use the microwave. These are little things that you know sometimes can be taken for granted but they do go a long way.”

The process of making a homeless application is confusing and difficult, so throughout he has had support from our Tenants Voice Officer, explaining each stage along the way – in the end the council accepted a duty to house him, and he is now waiting for a place to come up. Getting information was something he really appreciated: “sometimes it seems like murky waters because you don’t really know what’s available, and they’ve just been able to provide you with the means of getting the right information.”

Abeo wanted to support Z2K’s campaigning work, and so he got involved in our client voice project #LifeAfterLockdown, recording audio clips of himself and his experiences. He found the project “inspiring” and will continue to be involved in future.

Abeo has hopes to start his own business and has now been accepted onto the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme with the DWP. This scheme provides start-up costs to help Abeo establish his business before he can begin trading. Abeo was also really pleased to receive a new laptop funded by the London Hostels Association, he could not afford to buy a laptop himself but this will be integral to him to establish his business. Having received the laptop, Abeo said: This is so amazing, I am extremely grateful. I have had a terrible year, you don’t know how much this means to me.”

*Names have been changed to protect the client’s identity