Many of the people St Petrock’s works with have additional support needs and can struggle to navigate the complex benefits system alone. For some, the Covid-19 crisis has created further challenges: financial pressure due to job loss or reduction in income, significant changes to existing benefit entitlements, and increased reliance on ‘socially distanced’ contact with the DWP online. St Petrock’s is expanding its specialist welfare support service to help people overcome these challenges and ensure that appropriate benefit claims are established and maintained.
Established in response to the growing numbers of clients affected negatively by welfare reform, the St Petrock’s welfare support service has been intensively used since it first opened in 2016. Our specialist adviser provides personalised one-to-one support with every element of the benefits process, from assessing initial entitlement, assisting with applications and evidence-gathering, to liaising with the DWP and formulating appeals. The service carried out over 300 pieces of work in 2019/20, and attained an 82% success rate in establishing or appealing claims (with a further 9% of outcomes pending or unknown).
In response to the current crisis, we have introduced extra staffing, undergone updated specialist training and established a dedicated email address to increase the capacity of the service and ensure we can meet growing demand. People who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can contact the service directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to access individual advice and support (or to request a call back via phone). For clients who cannot access support remotely, the service can also take referrals and provide advice via support staff at partner organisations while lockdown restrictions are in place.
Further details about what the service can offer, and some helpful resources, are available here.