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Author: Belfast Telegraph - Claire McNeilly
Published on 07 December 2012 04:30 PM

Age NI said it has had to bring in extra staff to man its helpline telephones since the Belfast Telegraph launched Feel the Benefit.

The organisation’s chief executive Anne O’Reilly said scores of older people had been contacting it for help since the start of the week.

“The response we’ve had to the Belfast Telegraph’s Feel the Benefit initiative has been truly outstanding,” she said.

“And we are encouraging older people to continue to call us to see what extra payments they may be entitled to, particularly in this cold weather.

“This week our helpline has been inundated but calls are being diverted to Age UK when our local advisors are busy so everyone should get through.”

In addition to benefit checks, Age NI advisors said they have been referring people to the warm homes scheme and giving rate relief advice. There has also been a positive response to this newspaper’s Feel the Benefit drive from older people calling Age NI.

A woman in her 80s said: “I don’t want to deprive anyone else if I am not entitled to benefits but when I saw the Belfast Telegraph it made me pick up the phone and call.”

As a result of contacting the helpline she may qualify for up to £100 a week in additional benefits.

A client in his 90s said: “I didn’t think I was entitled to any benefits but when I read the Belfast Telegraph I was encouraged to phone.”

Another caller said: “I wanted to do a benefits check for my mum after reading the Belfast Telegraph article and I called to find out what information is required. Thanks so much for giving me clear, straightforward advice.”

An older person added: “Having my benefits check was like having a health check! I should do it more often — at least each year for my own peace of mind.”

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575