Jack completed an 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 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.
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.
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.
Yasmin came to us with benefit issues, and it transpired that although both her daughters had disabilities, she was unable to claim because her ex-partner was refusing to accept the disabilities. As such, she had fallen into rent arrears and so Z2K spent time helping her work through the emotional dilemma which she felt she had going against her ex-partners wishes.
*Names have been changed to protect the client’s identity