Clare Hastie, Kingsley Napley
"I often find when meeting with a client that their confidence has been knocked by the DWP’s decision and that they have lost faith in the system that is designed to protect and support them. Part of my role when attending a hearing with a client is to sit beside them and to be their voice when the emotions overwhelm them."
Kingsley Napley was one of the first Law Firms to get involved with Z2K’s Tribunals Project, and joined in 2017 when the project was just starting. They regularly received positive feedback from the clients they support at tribunal: “At least you knew someone was there to help you or guide you through the system. You didn’t know where to go or who to talk to.”– Kingsley Napley client feedback
Staff from Kingsley Napley, including partners, associates, trainees and paralegals, are allocated cases by Z2K’s tribunal’s co-ordinator, and they then arrange an initial meeting with the client. They prepare submissions and seek to gather as much further evidence as they can, such as patient records or a GP letter, to help support the client’s case. This is then filed with the tribunal ahead of the hearing and then they represent the client at the oral hearing in a pro bono capacity. In 2019 already, Kingsley Napley have represented 15 cases, and in 2018, they represented 6 cases. As a result of this support, the financial benefit for our clients in 2019 is already £241,702.15 and in 2018, it was £201,472.
Clare Hastie, an Associate at Kingsley Napley has been heavily involved with the project and has been recognised by the Pro Bono Co-Ordinator at Kingsley Napley for her commitment: “You’ve done at least 5 cases since we started and you’re my go to when I need help and you’re really helpful to new volunteers! A star!”
When Clare was asked about the project and its impact, she says “It has been a real privilege to work as a volunteer for Z2K over the last few years. As a volunteer, I have been able to help several clients to successfully appeal decisions made by the DWP to refuse their PIP or ESA applications. The clients I have worked with have all been incredibly vulnerable due to their complex health conditions. My experience of supporting these clients and helping them to navigate the complex and daunting appeal process has been both hugely rewarding and deeply humbling. I often find when meeting with a client that their confidence has been knocked by the DWP’s decision and that they have lost faith in the system that is designed to protect and support them. Part of my role when attending a hearing with a client is to sit beside them and to be their voice when the emotions overwhelm them. By supporting them through the appeal process and securing a fair and just outcome, I hope that this goes some way to reinstating that lost confidence and to help them to move on with their lives with the financial support they need in place. I often hear clients say that, had it not been for one of the Z2K volunteers, they would not have been able to face going to the appeal hearing on their own. This really highlights why the work that Z2K do is so vitally important.”
This project helped Susan*, a 46 year old woman suffering with HIV, incontinence, mental health issues and chronic pain, and other long-standing health conditions resulting from her HIV. Despite having been on ESA since 2012 due to her long-standing and declining health conditions, she was reassessed and her entitlement was revoked, finding her fit for work. She was frantic and worried as she was unfamiliar with how to challenge the decision and found communication difficult due to her language barrier. With the support from Kingsley Napley, the appeal was won on the basis that she met the highest threshold for both incontinence and appropriateness of behaviour when engaging with other people. It was recommended that the DWP did not consider reassessing until after 18 months had passed. The positive decision meant that the client was no longer benefit capped.