Disability Benefits Advice Office Opens in Bournemouth

The Diverse Abilities Advice Team is delighted to announce that a new office is available in Townsend, Bournemouth, for clients that are sick or disabled and need assistance with disability benefit applications or appeals, thanks to a partnership with the Jewell Academy.

The Advice Team has exclusive use of an office within the new wing of the Jewell Academy to provide a service more easily accessible to residents of Bournemouth and Christchurch.

Clients who are sick or disabled and need assistance with disability benefits applications and appeals can meet their advisor in the comfort and privacy of a brand new office, on the ground floor, just around the corner from the main reception, with an accessible WC nearby.  There is also parking quite close to the entrance and Yellow Bus 2b stops in Jewell Road, just outside the school (at the Townsend Primary School stop).

Nikki Haswell, advice manager, said: “The new facility is working very well indeed. Claire Addis – principal at the Jewell Academy and Simon – the receptionist/administrator at the Academy, have both been extremely welcoming and helpful to our clients and the team.  We are delighted to make our service easier to access for clients in Bournemouth and Christchurch, and will allow us to see more clients in a day. It will also help us to undertake less home visits, reduce costs and be more efficient, so we can support more people.”

There is a charge of £15 if you can attend the Jewell Academy office for an appointment or £26 for a two hour appointment at your home.  This is because the Advice Team receives no government or council funding and has to cover its costs.  The Advice Team also assists people to make and register lasting powers of attorney, enduring powers of attorney and provides advocacy on issues such as social care assessments and reductions in care packages and continuing healthcare.

If you, a family member or friend needs expert assistance with a disability benefit application, reconsideration or appeal please call our advice line on 0300 3305514, weekdays 9am-1.30pm, for advice or to make an appointment.

Diverse Abilities Provide Benefits Advice to the Dorset Community

The Advice Team, part of Diverse Abilities, the only Dorset-based charity that supports children and adults with physical and learning disabilities in the county, is offering assistance with Personal Independent Payment (PIP) claims for adults with a disability and those that have a long-term illness.

The charity’s team are concerned that many people in Dorset are still not aware that the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit has replaced Disability Living Allowance, and that they may qualify for this benefit if they are unable, or less able, to look after themselves and do daily tasks like washing, dressing and cooking and managing money. Nikki Haswell, advice manager, said: “Even if you can do these tasks, but slowly and with difficulty or you cannot do it reliably and safely, you may still qualify.”

If the criteria are met, you can receive PIP benefit regardless of income or savings as it is not means-tested. If you meet the criteria you can be in work, earning, and still claim, but must be over 16 and under 65. For over 65s, that are long-term sick or disabled, Attendance Allowance can be claimed. If under 16, Disability Living Allowance can be claimed.

Nikki added: “If you think you meet the criteria, the Diverse Abilities Advice Team (aka Disability Wessex) are here to help. We can provide assistance with completing applications for PIP, Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance, and Employment and Support Allowance too. We also help with requests for reconsideration and appeals, if you have made an application and been refused or awarded a lower rate than you think you should have been.

“The Advice Team aim to ensure that everyone who is genuinely entitled to any disability or ill-health benefit receives their full benefits entitlement and that the bureaucracy and burden of form-filling does not prevent anyone from getting what they deserve.”

John, a client of the Advice Team, has already benefited from this service. He required help completing his form as he was unable to focus for long enough to complete the document on his own and was unable to explain all of his mental health conditions. Without the help of the advisor, John would not have explained exactly how his condition affects his daily life and this would have made a difference to whether he received a Personal Independent Payment. John commented: “I would have not been able to complete the form correctly without Disability Wessex, and am therefore extremely grateful for the support and assistance they provided.”

For further information call the team on 0300 330 5514, weekdays 9am – 1.30pm, and they will be very happy to help and discuss potential entitlement or to make an appointment.

A letter to the editor of the Dorset Echo

Dear Editor,

It is disgraceful to hear that yet again some of the most vulnerable people in our society are being let down by the Department of Work and Pensions, causing distress and financial difficulties!

Disabled and sick people are currently waiting five to six months for the outcome of their personal independence payments, which has replaced the disability living allowance, due to the huge backlog. The Guardian reported that in some areas of England, a backlog of 92,000 cases had built up and the DWP had only made decisions in 16% of the expected number of cases!

What are people supposed to do in the meanwhile to cope with all the additional costs of coping with sickness or a disability, like having to take a taxi because you can’t drive or cope with public transport!? It is ridiculous and very unfair.

If you are struggling and need to talk about any disability or sickness claims, including PIP, employment and support allowance, attendance allowance and disability living allowance for under 16s, our service – Disability Wessex – part of Dorset charity Diverse Abilities  – is here to help. We will be with you every step of the way from completing the application form to being a person to talk to during the assessment process, as well as someone to support you when you hear the result and need to make further decisions.

Please call me on 0300 330 5514 and I will be happy to help.

Regards,

Nikki Haswell, Disability Wessex Advice Manager

Disability Wessex Reminds the Dorset Community They Are Here to Help

Following reports that sick and disabled adults trying to claim the new benefit – personal independence payment (PIP), which replaces disability living allowance – are facing distress and financial difficulties due to the backlog of cases at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Disability Wessex wants to remind local people that they are here to help, every step of the way.

The service, which is part of Dorset-based charity Diverse Abilities, can help local people by providing support when completing application forms for PIP, employment and support allowance, attendance allowance and disability living allowance for under 16s. The service is also on hand to talk with clients and get advice when going through the assessment process.

Nikki Haswell, Advice Manager at Disability Wessex, said: “It is awful to hear that some of the most vulnerable people in our society are being incredibly let down by the Department of Work and Pensions. It is frustrating to hear that disabled or sick people have to wait five to six months for the outcome of a personal independence payment application. We are here to help and by working with us, we can make sure your form is filled in correctly, ensuring a claim does not have any additional delays.”

The Advice Team at Disability Wessex assists disabled people and carers to access the support and services to which they are entitled. It also helps individuals and their families who have been diagnosed with conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, MND, Stroke, MS and brain injury, to get Lasting Power of Attorney or Deputyship in place.

For further information please contact Nikki Haswell, Advice Service Manager on 0300 330 5514.

Dorset Disability Charity Backs Action on Stroke Month

Advice service Disability Wessex, run by Dorset charity Diverse Abilities, is backing this month’s Action on Stroke campaign by calling out to those in the local area to be more mindful of mini-stroke or TIA (transient ischaemic attack) symptoms.

The Stroke Association reports that every year at least 46,000 people in the UK have a TIA or mini-stroke for the first time and although the symptoms do not last long, it is very serious as it is a sign that the person is at risk of having a stroke.

Disability Wessex is backing the campaign by stressing the importance of understanding the warning signs of a stroke and being prepared for the future by organising a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), before it’s too late.

Disability Wessex is recommending that local people create and register a LPA sooner rather than later as a stroke, and potentially many other illnesses or accidents, can cause the inability to make major decisions in your life, for example – managing finances, deciding on health treatments, where to live or be cared for. Therefore creating a LPA ensures your wishes are abided by and a family member(s) or trusted friend(s) can make decisions on your behalf just in the case an accident or illness occurs.

Nikki Haswell, Advice Manager at Disability Wessex, said: “Experiencing a stroke can cause a loss of mental capacity and can occur at any age, even in your 20s! If you have a stroke you may lose the ability to make decisions yourself so even if you haven’t received the warning signs yet, it is a good idea to get organised and register an LPA so the people you choose can make the decisions about your life you would want them to.”

Disability Wessex is on hand to offer advice regarding LPAs and can also create and register the document. The service is not-for-profit but does make a charge for its service, although it is considerably cheaper than most solicitors.

Nikki added: “If you experience an illness or accident and an LPA has not been created, your family will need to apply to the court for a deputyship and this is much more complicated, a longer process and more expensive. Therefore it is a benefit to you and your family to create an LPA now!”

For further information or to book an appointment, please contact, the Advice Service on 0300 3305514.

For more information on Action on Stroke month visit www.stroke.org.uk

Disability Wessex Urges Government to Act Now and Support Those with Disabilities

As reported by UK Parliament (www.parliament.uk), reforms to the support provided for housing costs and the household benefit cap are causing financial hardship to vulnerable people, including those with disabilities in Dorset.

Disability Wessex, the advice service of Dorset-based charity Diverse Abilities, is frustrated to read that these reforms, which include the social sector size criteria (SSSC) also known as ‘bedroom tax’ and the ‘spare room subsidy’, are effecting those with disabilities, who were not the originally intended targets, and are unlikely to be able to change their circumstance without Government help.

Nikki Haswell, Advice Manager at Disability Wessex, said: “The SSSC is having a particular impact on people with disabilities who have adapted homes or need a room to accommodate a support worker and we witness the distress caused by the welfare reforms brought in 2012 on an almost daily basis. Last year we supported 94 people with a disability at their appeal hearings and are proud to say that 71 per cent were successful, but nevertheless it is very sad to see that some are not when the reforms are hitting genuinely sick and disabled people.”

The report published by the Work and Pensions Committee on 2 April recommends that anyone living in a home that has been significantly adapted for them should be exempt from the SSSC. The report further urges the Government to exempt all households that contain a person in receipt of higher level disability benefits (DLA or PIP) from the SSSC.

Nikki added: “The welfare changes are punishing some of the most vulnerable people in our society who are genuinely sick and disabled. The report could be a positive way forward and I hope the government take on board the report’s recommendations to support those with disabilities in our local area and further afield.”

The Advice Team at Disability Wessex assists disabled people and carers to access the support and services to which they are entitled. It also helps individuals and their families who have been diagnosed with conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, MND, Stroke, MS and brain injury, to get Lasting Power of Attorney or Deputyship in place.

For further information please visit www.parliament.uk or contact Nikki Haswell, Advice Service Manager on 07880 197332 or 01202 718266.