Why Hear Us values our Benefits Advice Service
We recently asked what people think about our Welfare Benefits Advice Service and thought we could share some feedback from Hear Us, a Service User Network in Croydon.
Jane White from Hear Us said she refers service users to our benefits service for the following reasons:
- She can be confident that Mind advisors understand and empathise with mental health problems such that they are in the best position to support service users with their benefit claims.
- Mind Welfare Benefit Advisors have a broad knowledge of all welfare issues, keep up to date with knowledge and changes to the welfare system, unlike other organisations who know ‘bits of information’, which means that the service users that they refer will get the best possible advice and support.
- Hear Us phones the Welfare Benefits Advice Service on a regular basis and always receives prompt, accurate advice and information with which to advise service users who come to them with concerns.
- Mind in Croydon are the only organisation that they are aware of that supports service users through the ‘ordeal’ of complex benefit cases, including Appeals and Tribunals. They feel that our depth knowledge of mental health and service users’ issues, means that they can support people emotionally as well as practically while they go through the often traumatising and complex welfare system.
- Mind in Croydon are probably the most established and well known mental health charity in the borough, and as such, the organisation as a whole has a whole wealth of information on service user issues including employment, social inclusion, healthy lifestyles, advocacy and so forth. Therefore, the Mind in Croydon Welfare Benefits Advice Service can offer, either directly, or with the support of other colleagues within their organisation, a full and holistic service for clients. This prevents service users from being passed ‘from pillar to post’, since Benefit issues can rarely be solved in isolation to other problems that a person with mental health problems may be going through.
- In the current financial climate and bearing in mind the recent cuts to services, it is often a complex and drawn out process, to refer a service user for help and support. Several organisations that offer welfare support have not inconsiderable restrictions on who they are/are not able to support. For example, people need to be under secondary mental health services (SlaM) to receive benefit support from their CMHT. Croydon Council’s Welfare advice service can only offer a face to face service to people who live in certain parts of the borough. Other voluntary organisations require a referral to their service before they can help with benefits issues. By contrast, Mind in Croydon welfare service offers support to anyone in the borough who is experiencing mental health problems and has a complex benefits problem and the referral process is simple.
- With Welfare Reform, an ever increasing number of people with mental health problems are facing appeals and tribunals. Few organisations are in a position to support clients to appeal benefits decisions, attend tribunals etc. Mind in Croydon Welfare Service provides a crucial service, which I have no doubt, prevents many more people ending up in crisis and even in hospital, as a direct result of the pressures of Benefit issues.
- Mind in Croydon are undoubtedly the most well known Benefits Advice Service in the borough. Without this service, other organisations and service providers would be ‘lost’ about where to send clients with mental health issues for support with their benefits. The subsequent inevitable delays to client-support would cause distress to service users, loss of Benefits, deprivation and deterioration in mental health. Hear Us has witnessed several of their own members relapse over recent months as a direct result of benefit changes. Jane has no doubt that this problem would increase significantly without the Mind Welfare Benefits Advice Service.
- With an increasing number of service users being referred from secondary mental health services back to the care of their GPs, so the access to other support services (including Benefit support) diminishes. On top of this, GPs are often unaware of organisations who can support their patients with benefits. However, Mind in Croydon is a well known and trusted organisation that GPs are familiar with, preventing service users who are experiencing benefit issues, from slipping through the net.
For more information about our Welfare Benefits Advice Service, please click here.
Interested in knowing more about Hear Us?
Hear Us is Croydon's Mental Health Service User Group which acts as a coordinating body to facilitate, and ensure service users involvement in, the planning, delivery and monitoring of mental health services in Croydon. Helping to improve the quality of the services commissioned and delivered in Croydon objectives .
Please click here to view their website.