Fella joined the Cardinal Hume Centre’s Advice and Assessment Team in September 2018 and is one of the first staff members that clients meet when they come through our doors. Yasmin was one of her first clients. Despite various medical conditions, Yasmin*, age 54, has always prided herself on continuing to find employment, but low wages meant she struggled to afford furniture for her room and had to sleep on the floor until she borrowed money to buy a bed. When she came to the Centre in September 2018, she was in financial debt, pain and dispirited by two rejection letters from the Department for Work and Pensions, to which she had applied for support for people living with disabilities. Below are Fella’s and Yasmin’s accounts of how Fella helped Yasmin get the financial support she desperately needed because of her health.
“My health problems affect my life a lot. Fella actually helped me list them for my application for support: let me see, I have epilepsy, bilateral cervical ribs, dislocated discs, and chronic pain in my neck, shoulders and elbows… and arthritis in my left foot. When I walk home from my job in the jewellery store, I am dying of pain in my feet, and, last week, I almost had a seizure at work. But it’s the anxiety and depression that’s really killing me. I realised I couldn’t carry on like this anymore, and opened up to a friend who told me about the Centre. That’s where I met Fella. Fella was so good. She knew all the legislation, got the right documents from my GP, and helped me describe my pain in the application.
When I got my decision — it was on 16 January — I was so surprised. I thought, thank God for giving me this support. Now I can start to repay my debt to friends and my loans at the bank. I also talked to my manager who reduced my hours a little, which is very nice for my pain.
I appreciate your organisation. All of you. The thing I saw when I came to the Centre, which was very interesting to me, is that you are all here in one purpose, to just help. It is beautiful. You are so close to people: when people have a problem, you make it your problem. You feel everything together with your clients.”
“When I met Yasmin, I could clearly see that she had a medical condition and that she needed help. She had applied twice for Personal Independence Payment, which can help with some of the extra costs if you have long-term ill-health or disability. I was upset with the system for rejecting her twice. It was so obvious that she was struggling. She was really entitled to that support.
I advised Yasmin about the medical evidence she needed to gather, and we completed the application form together. It’s 40 pages long and not very easy to understand, especially if English isn’t your first language. Together we worked out the official names of her conditions and gathered as much medical evidence as possible for the application. Then we sent it in with a support letter and her medical summary. At last, Yasmin’s application came back with a positive decision. I try to empower my clients as much as possible: I want them to become independent in the long run. Helping people access their rights is what I love most about my job.”