A helping hand later in life

25th February 2020

Imagine you have ongoing physical or mental health problems and are elderly. Gaining help from other people begins to seem impossible. Family and friends that people have turned to in times of crisis may no longer be there or do not have the skills to assist with complex benefit problems, especially as information is increasingly online.

Citizens Advice Allerdale, based on Oxford Street in Workington, received £4,500 from the Abbeyfield Carlisle Society Over 55 Fund and Kipling Fund for Older People to provide one-to-one specialist welfare benefit appointments for older people.

The charity had seen an increased demand for advice and support due to reduced services being offered by other organisations, particularly for older people.

The project supported 104 people who were given advice and support to help maximise their income, as well as dealing with the underlying issues that lead to older people living in poverty. The charity helped its clients gain £206,047 by successfully challenging benefit decisions.

The welfare benefit specialists provided one-to-one appointments to explain exactly what the benefit appeals process involves, including advising on what evidence they should gather from any medical professional. They also assist with compiling submission evidence to the tribunal service, by assisting the client to gather and provide as much relevant information as possible. This ensures the tribunal service can make an informed decision based on how someone’s condition affect’s their day to day life and whether they are entitled to the benefit they have applied for.

Funding Officer, Lyndsay Carver, said: “Many older residents find it more difficult to ask for help at a time of need due to misconceived ideas of ‘not asking for or accepting charity’ when actually they have the right to be able to access the necessary advice and support they need to claim and challenge benefit decisions.

“The specialist welfare benefits advice and support provided by this project has had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our clients, reducing stress and anxiety, preventing relationship breakdown, promoting employment and empowering people to make positive changes to their lives. Seeking advice and support not only benefits the individual, but also benefits their families, local economies and communities. Accessing our service helps to prevent detriment occurring or escalating further.”