Gemma was referred to Interact by the Council’s community support team, who were worried that she was distressed about her financial situation. She was hoping to find someone to help her manage her money because she thought it wasn’t going far enough, and she was finding it difficult to pay all the bills in her shared house.
“I helped Gemma to get advice from MACS – Money Advice and Community Support – to do a benefit check. I supported Gemma to understand the process, as MACS needed to see lots of her financial information including her bank statements, in order to understand what she had been receiving and see what else she might be entitled to. The benefit check showed that Gemma was entitled to a benefit called Severe Disability Premium, but had not been receiving it for over 5 years.” – Rachel (Senior Advocate, Interact)
Rachel liaised with Gemma’s support workers to help them to write a covering letter to the Department of Work and Pensions that explained Gemma’s situation and asked for her claim to be backdated. Over the course of 2 months Rachel and Gemma met regularly and kept in contact with the DWP to check on the progress of the claim, Rachel helped explain why it was taking some time for the papers to be processed and assessed, and helped Gemma deal with her frustration at the speed of the system and the difficulty getting answers.
“I needed Rachel to be my advocate as people often didn’t understand me on the phone and were rude to me.” – Gemma (Service User, Interact)
Rachel continues the story:
“I stayed in contact with the DWP under Gemma’s instruction, and eventually we got the news that her claim was going to be fully backdated. This meant she got a payment of over £10,000. This was obviously fantastic news for Gemma, but she wasn’t sure what to do with so much money!”
To help with this Rachel facilitated a session looking at financial options including savings, bonds, and what she might want to spend some money on straight away. Gemma is now keeping most of the money in a savings account, but has chosen to spend some on a holiday and some much needed warm clothes for the winter!
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