One of them, ‘N’ came to the UK from North Africa several years ago to escape an abusive husband. She was badly mentally scarred and living alone, and came to us for help when her disability benefit was stopped by the Department of Work and Pensions last autumn.
She was in such a fragile state that we immediately accompanied her to her GP and then on to the mental health team at King’s College Hospital A&E, who arranged a home care package. We also got her help from Southwark Law Centre and a benefits adviser to help her make a full submission appealing the DWP benefits decision.
Some months later, the tribunal service was finally able to hear her case. One of our volunteers went with her to the tribunal, which quickly found in her favour. Her benefits were fully backdated, and her ability to live safely and more confidently has been secured.
Another client, B, fled with his family after suffering persecution in a Middle Eastern country some years ago. He is now taking professional exams to become more self-sufficient, but his mobility is severely limited by polio he contracted as a child. DWP had awarded him Employment Support Allowance, but last year - despite no improvement in his condition - it decided to stop the benefit. We referred him to the welfare benefits adviser at the Southwark Law Centre who prepared a full submission appealing the decision. Again there was a long wait for the tribunal hearings which were attended by one of our volunteers and the Law Centre adviser. And again the tribunal decided that DWP had got it wrong and should immediately restore and backdate the benefit.
In both cases, the benefits have made a material difference to the clients’ lives. But, also importantly, the assistance they have received has restored their confidence that they can get a fair hearing and genuine support as they try to rebuild their lives here.
We are constantly working to ensure our clients - who often have nowhere else to turn - don’t face injustice and lose the support they have. We work with some of the most vulnerable people in the UK. If you would like to help us support them, please sign up to become a regular donor here.