December was a busy month for welfare rights advice at the Centre. When there are benefit claims to support women to make, and appeals on negative benefit decisions, I like to try and get them all done in time for Christmas in the hope that our women won’t be struggling quite so much during what is already a very difficult time of year for so many. I returned to work in the New Year and remembered where the on button for my computer was (and eventually my password too!), I discovered to my absolute delight that the December push had paid off, quite literally, bringing in a total of £31540.60 for our women.
Two of the women had received large backdated amounts into their bank accounts on 22nd December and were able to spend the holiday period in relative comfort compared to the hardship they had been previously been experiencing. Three of them were being expected to attend Job Centre appointments despite having very limiting disabilities and are now reassured by less pressure since having these decisions overturned. One of our women was relieved to find that we had appealed a benefit decision that means her rent account is now in credit by £533 after years of rent arrears and the resultant stress and insecurity.
Overall since starting at the Women’s Centre as part of the Help through Crisis project at the beginning of August, our women have seen benefit gain of £65184.47. The women I work with are all absolutely amazing and a privilege to work with. Often during sessions we agree that money is not the answer to all of the challenges they face but a necessary platform from which to exercise the kind of autonomy and empowerment that many take for granted.
Help through Crisis is funded by the Big Lottery.