Case studies

“Today I filled out a PIP session form for a client with severe mental health problems. We kept to their pace and took time to answer each and every question carefully and concisely to make the client's case stronger in Court.”
Gurjot Jamu
Volunteer, Greenwich Legal Advice Centre
“A mother came in to ask for help regarding her UC claim. It was a burden for her to come all the way to a job centre every time she needed to submit documents. I showed her that she UC account could be accessed on her phone and how to submit evidence by taking photos of the documents. She was extremely happy and grateful for the help. Although I did not feel like I did a lot, her appreciation made me feel like I made a positive impact. It also reminded me how much of a difference, a simple act can make.”
Linny Ng
Volunteer, Advising Communities
“I believe that one of my most impactful experiences at the Job Centre came whilst assisting a couple fill out a universal credit application. This took place towards the latter end of my placement but was my first time filing a joint claim and thus entailed more thorough and extensive assistance than otherwise. I felt this case was especially meaningful due to the dire nature of the couple’s situation with a disabled child, and the mother who was also unwell to the point where the husband was required to leave his job to care for her. A challenging aspect about assisting with the form in this instance was at times a language barrier, but this seemed to be overcome by reiterating and rephrasing certain key questions. Another aspect of this case which set it apart was that I was continuously involved in its process. Usually given my placement providing digital support you are likely to help someone fill in a Universal Credit form and will not subsequently see them again. However, in this instance after having set up their ID interview, and after them having attended this interview, they required help and I was coincidentally present. Thus, I helped further to instruct them on how to use the Universal Credit journal and helped to input information on their financial accounts. Finally, I received extremely positive feedback from the couple who expressed that they would have been entirely unable to cope with the process without my help; this made this particular interaction meaningful and memorable.”
Rahul Medappa
Volunteer, Advising Communities
“Another task which was completed over two weeks was compiling a list of all victims of the fire that had visited the CAB who were refused PIP/ESA. DWP had stated that victims of the fire will be exempt from completing a ESA50 or an assessment and will automatically qualify for such benefits if it can be shown by medical records that they have the illness they describe. Many people were refused. Most did work prior to the fire but as a direct result of experiencing such trauma/ losing everything including loved ones they could no longer work. Reading the cases was very emotional and really brought home what has occurred just under a year ago. While I am not ignorant to the situation, I don’t live in that area of London, nor do I visit that way West so actually seeing it and experiencing it was what helped me ensure that the job be done correctly and these people receive the help they so very need. Again I had left the placement before the data was sent to DWP to remedy their mistake.”
Charlotte Evans
Volunteer, Kensington & Chelsea Citizens Advice
“One case I found particularly rewarding was helping a Spanish client make a UC claim. She had only been in the UK for a week and was quite stressed and frustrated because the language barrier was making it very difficult for her to apply for jobs, make her UC claim, and understand how the system works. Using google translate, I explained how she could apply, what her obligations were, and what she would be entitled to. I then indicated some good sites to start her job search. This experience was notably rewarding. While it took more time than with previous claims, the client was very grateful for the help – she said she had previously felt very stressed about it as she did not have any help and didn’t understand the system at all. Explaining it to someone with no background knowledge of the benefits system helped me consolidate my knowledge of UC. Overall, the case made me reflect on the importance of the work Advising Communities does, helping people who feel very anxious about things I would take for granted as straightforward. The client came back in 2 weeks later to thank me and let me know that her claim was underway and that she had a job interview.”
Jacob Simmons
Volunteer, Advising Communities
“One of my most memorable sessions was when a visually impaired man came to Advice Hub to apply for Carer’s Allowance on behalf of his wife, who was his carer. As he was almost completely blind, I had to read out every word of the Carer’s Allowance Form to him, help him fill it in and guide him to sign his signature at the right places. As he was not a native English speaker, I had to do it very slowly and ensure that he understood the documents he was signing off on. He also had trouble expressing what he wanted to communicate in the form, I had to guess what he was trying to say and retell his story as accurately as I could in the application form. Even though it was a time-consuming process, he was extremely patient throughout the appointment and also commended me for being able to ‘read [his] mind exactly’ as to what he wanted to be written in the form. He left much happier and very relieved and thanked me profusely afterwards.”
Nicole Chan
Volunteer, Advising Communities