Our services work together to improve outcomes for local people. Read some of our clients' stories here.
Sarah is 54 years old and lives in a council property with her 17 year old daughter. She had a stroke as a child and since then has had problems with the left-hand side of her body. She can barely use left arm and also has mental health issues. She recently had hip surgery, further reducing her mobility. Sarah depended on her Motability vehicle to get out and about as she struggles to walk and cannot use public transport.
Sarah had an assessment for PIP and was awarded the standard rate, meaning that whilst she received the same amount of money for her care needs, she was going to lose her vehicle. Under the new rules, Motability vehicles are only allowed if clients are awarded the Enhanced Rate. She lodged a mandatory reconsideration with the DWP but this was not successful.
Sarah came to NBAC for help to appeal this decision. We helped her understand the contents of the appeal documents, arranged her medical evidence and prepared her witness statement with her, which she found difficult due to her mental health problems. We also prepared written arguments in the form of a submission for the hearing. The appeal was successful and Sarah was awarded the enhanced rate for both care and mobility components. She was able to keep her vehicle.
"I have to say your offices are fantastic in the help and support you provide. It feels like someone is on your side in the exhausting process the powers that be put claimants through. I am genuinely thankful you provided help and support to me in what has been a very difficult time over the months past."
Bill had to stop work due to experiencing Mental Health issues. He had lost confidence and was feeling anxious about returning to work. Interested in exploring volunteering as a first step, he attended the Connect Lockleaze course ‘Introduction to Volunteering’ held at The Langley Centre. Soon after, Bill decided to volunteer for North Bristol Advice Centre.
As a result of his volunteering experience, Bill decided he would like to look for work in the voluntary sector. Buzz Employability signposted him to a community Mental Health outreach group that offered peer support and Pluss (Work Choice programme) which offers in-work support and paid traineeships to people with disabilities. Buzz and Pluss worked together to support Bill into a paid 6 month traineeship with North Bristol Advice Centre. He is receiving in-work support through Pluss to ensure any issues or worries are resolved quickly and continues to attend the Buzz Employability drop-in to find work when the traineeship ends.
‘My life has changed due to my volunteering and subsequent Traineeship offer. I feel wanted and appreciated and valued…and feel more responsible for myself and others.”
Claire is in her early 50's and had had breast cancer twice. She lived with her partner, who was also her carer, in local authority accommodation in a three bedroomed property. Radiotherapy had burnt one lung leaving Claire with breathing difficulties. Chemotherapy had affected her bones resulting in osteoarthritis. She also had chronic fatigue syndrome as a result of the medication.
Claire’ ESA had stopped following an assessment. We advised her to claim PIP and request a Discretionary Housing Payment. We helped Claire to appeal the ESA decision. PIP was refused so we helped Claire to appeal this decision. During this time, Clair’s cancer had returned and she needed another operation and further treatment.
The ESA appeal was allowed and Claire was placed in the support group. She received an additional weekly sum and did not have to undergo work related activity, allowing her to concentrate on her recovery.
The PIP appeal was also allowed. The Tribunal decided that the Claire should receive the standard rate Daily Living component and the enhanced rate for the Mobility component.
This resulted in an increased income of over £100 per week.
Clive is 42, has a mild learning disability, a spinal condition and has spent some time in prison. When his catering van went out of business he met one-to-one with a Buzz Employability adviser and together they came up with an action plan to help Clive get back into paid work. Clive felt he had lost his confidence and wanted to update his skills, complete a CV, identify jobs and complete application forms. He completed the L2 Food Hygiene course with Connect Lockleaze, who also supported him with reading and writing. Through Buzz he was able to find a volunteering role at Bristol Wood Recycling Project.
Clive revealed that he was depressed and was £10,000 in debt. He was signposted to North Bristol Advice Centre for debt advice and successfully applied for a DRO, leaving him debt-free. Buzz also referred him to the Art Wellbeing course and the Time to Talk event at the Buzz Cafe where he met others experiencing Mental Health issues and received advice from a Mental Health specialist.
Clive reported that his mood and confidence had increased and he started to take greater care in his appearance. He applied for a job as a catering assistant and was successful at securing full time paid work.
Mona is 60 years old and recently widowed. She came to NBAC suffering from depression and anxiety over how she was going to cope with daily life without her husband as she was struggling to run a large house on a small income. Our welfare benefits adviser helped her to apply for ESA and signposted her to Community Support at Home (CSaH).
Our CSaH coordinator met Mona at her home and helped her complete a financial statement. They identified that her outgoings were higher than her incomings and looked at reducing her household costs. They helped Mona to stop her gym membership, which she was not using, cancelled the landline (she was receiving a high volume of nuisance calls) and changed her mobile phone contract to include more data and a new handset with a larger screen she could see better. They also applied for the Warm Home Discount, taking £140 off of Mona’s electricity bill, and helped her to search for a new car insurance online, saving her over £200.Mona was signposted to bereavement counselling with Cruse and Lift Psychology. Soon after she started our Basic Skills IT Course.
Mona is better off financially and emotionally. She is really enjoying learning new skills and meeting new people.
Terry is a 59 year old widower suffering from poor health and depression who is unable to read or write. He attended debt drop-in for help with rent arrears on his 3 bedroom house, which had built up after his wife died. Our adviser helped him to apply for a discretionary housing payment and contacted rent management to arrange an appropriate repayment amount.
Terry was then signposted to MoneySmart for one-to-one mentoring, including completing a budget, where it was identified he could apply for PIP. A Welfare Benefits volunteer helped Terry to fill in a PIP application form. He wanted to move to a smaller property but did not have internet at home to get onto the Home Choice website. He was referred to the MoneySmart Online drop-in where volunteers helped him to access the Home Choice website and submit his application.
Terry was successful in both his benefits applications. He is now happily living in his new one bedroom flat, debt free and with more disposable income.
Doris is a single woman in her 50s and suffering from ill health. She was contacted by her local authority and told they were removing her Single Occupier Discount as they believed another person was living at the property.
This was based on information they gathered via an Experian Credit check of the property. This caused Doris a great deal of distress and anxiety as it meant she would have to pay council tax arrears amounting to £1600. The only way she could get the money was to sell her home.
Doris lived alone, but had allowed an old friend to use her house as a mailing address. She was happy to do so as he would always stop for a cup of tea and a chat when he collected his post. We helped her appeal against this decision but were unsuccessful. We decided to take her case to the Valuation Tribunal.
The local authority contacted us prior to the hearing and advised that they had reviewed the evidence and decided, on the balance of probability, this other person was not living at the address.
Doris's Single Occupier Discount was reinstated for the entire period.
Robert, who is in his mid forties, was diagnosed with cancer. As a result he had to have his leg amputated. He was unable to use a prosthetic limb or a wheelchair as he cannot sit comfortably and is in constant pain.
He was required to attend a Work Capability Assessment because he was claiming for Employment Support Allowance. He was classified as fit for work and put into a work related activity group requiring him to attend work focused interviews at the job centre. He was extremely distressed by this decision. We helped him to appeal the decision and wrote a detailed letter to ESA, explaining Robert's situation.
Two weeks later, we had a telephone call from ESA saying they were reconsidering their decision. Within hours, we were notified that ESA had reinstated Robert's claim and put him into the Support Group for 3 years.
This acknowledged that Robert had such severe health problems there was no current prospect of his being able to undertake work or work-related activities.