The following case example reflects how Marah’s engagement with people on the margins can positively affect their lives. The name of the client has been changed.
Nicholas lives in Bed & Breakfast accommodation, has long-term problems with drugs and alcohol and also has physical health issues. He sometimes comes to the Marah Drop-in to eat and also calls into the office for one-off advice and assistance. Nicholas called in one day to ask for a food parcel as his benefit payments had been stopped. He had been taken off ESA (Employment Support Allowance) after failing the medical assessent for this benefit and been placed on JSA (Jobseekers Allowance). He had no income at all while the change in benefits was taking place. Our advocate assisted Nicholas in completing the forms to appeal against the medical asssessment decision. The appeal went to tribunal and our advocate attended this with Nicholas. The appeal was successful and Nicholas was placed back on ESA. Marah’s assistance has ensured that Nicholas’ voice was heard and that he received the benefit that was appropriate to his medical needs and for his general health and well-being. The whole process took around 4 months and Marah provided on-going support during this period. Marah continues to encourage and support Nicholas in his engagement with local drug and alcohol services.
Jenny, age 35 Long-term Marah client, has attended Drop-in for many years. She has mental health issues including long-term depression and anxiety - attends Marah Drop-in with friends, for food and company. Under the new benefit rules she was asked to attend a capability for work assessment. The outcome was that she was considered fit for work. She came to see Mark at Advocacy as she was still being signed off by her GP as unfit for work. She was very distressed by the situation because she felt that no-one believed that she was unwell. Her Employment Support Allowance (ESA) had been stopped after the work assessment. This meant she had no income at all when she approached Marah for help. Mark advised that she was entitled to reduced benefits whilst receiving GP certificates and awaiting a benefits appeal hearing. Mark helped client appeal the capability for work assessment decision and she was placed on reduced benefits during the appeal process. A Marah volunteer advocate (Alan) attended the appeal hearing with the client. A successful outcome of appeal was achieved and full benefits were reinstated and backdated. During the appeal the client was assisted with hospital visits due to a continuing physical health issue.
Hannah, age 24 Long-term Marah client – originally came to Marah with debt issues and has been attending Drop-in on and off for a few years. No support issues – she found out about Marah through her parents who attend regularly. Marah was contacted by Hannah, who was 38 weeks pregnant. She had been refused a Sure Start grant (this grant is provided to expecting mums to give financial support to buy essential baby items). Marah managed to secure a pram, baby car seats and other required baby items by working with Stroud Kids Stuff to source necessary items.
James, age 21 New client. Staying in B&B in Stroud – recently moved here to be closer to his mother. He is a recovering alcoholic. Brought to the Drop-in by another client who met him at B&B. Session supervisor directed him to meet with Mark at advocacy for further advice. He called into the Marah office and Mark arranged an appointment to see him to look into housing options – including supported accommodation. James given a Marah emergency food pack. In the last year Marah has seen many changes to the rules of existing benefits and with the introduction of new benefits which have and continue to cause many problems as they roll out to the different regions of the UK.