So far this year: Information & Advice
Published on 08 October 2021 02:19 PM
Our Information and Advice service sits at the core of what we do at Age UK Bristol. Our team offers advice to people 55 and over and their families in a wide range of issues, such as benefits, social care, housing, and managing your affairs. This service also offers dementia specialist support.
The work that this small team of volunteers and staff does has an enormous impact in the lives of older Bristolians. So far this year, the team has supported 1,007 older people in the city, which translates into 1,631 different issues they have dealt that require advice and assistance.
At present, we are seeing a large number of people on very low incomes trying to survive in the benefits system for the first time. This includes increasing numbers of people struggling with administrative jumbles, such as processing basic pension applications or Blue Badge forms. We also support many households trying to access appropriate home care services.
The support that our clients receive not only means that they get their queries solved, it also means that they get to access much-needed funds to which they are entitled. During the first 6 months of this financial year, the team has raised £940,500 worth of income directly to the pockets of older people in Bristol. For many, this means being able to afford heating during the winter months, or making adjustments to their homes so that they can carry on living independently longer.
I have no words to thank you for your help and advice, God bless you, winter is knocking, extra money will help to keep us warm, thank you Age UK Bristol. ~ Mr. A, I&A Client, 2021
The range of issues dealt by our team vary greatly and some can take months to resolve. However, we pride in the diligence of our staff and volunteers who make sure to do as much as they possibly can to see a case through and resolve it so the correct payments are made to those who are entitled to them.
Mr B and Mrs W’s Story
Mr B (62) is a long-term carer for his wife, Mrs W (82), who has advanced dementia. Mrs W was receiving confusing letters from the council regarding her benefits and she had accrued significant rent arrears and Council Tax Debit. After several weeks of investigation, the team established that a Bristol City Council officer had called the Department of Work and Pensions and closed Mrs W Pension Credit claim, on the basis that she was now married to Mr B.
Mr B & Mrs W maintained separate properties, which means that the don’t qualify as a ‘couple’ in benefit legislation. The team helped Mrs W to be included in Mr B’s claim for Universal Credit. Supporting Mr B, who has cognitive issues of his own, through this incredibly complex situation has taken tens of hours of phone calls and visits.
We have helped Mr B to understand the immediate situation, stopped Mrs W from becoming homeless and provided emergency food support. We also supported them to access emergency cash and sourced a free laptop with a data connection, so that they could manage the Universal Credit claims online, rather than trying to do it on their phones.