Service Spotlight: Welfare Benefit Service

For June’s Service Spotlight we spoke with Graeme from our Welfare Benefit service to find out what the service is, and how it benefits people’s wellbeing. 

Can you tell us what the Welfare Benefit Service is?

Welfare Benefits is a joint project between Bath Mind and Citizens Advice B&NES, that works to support people to claim the benefits they are entitled to in order to reduce poverty and improve their quality of life, whilst also reducing the strain which financial difficulties place on mental health.

The main part of our service revolves around undertaking appeals against what we see as incorrect decisions by DWP not to award specific benefits such as Personal Independence Payment. We also work to ensure that those who qualify actually receive the benefits they are entitled to.

Our service provides advice and support to both the people who use our services, and to the colleagues who support them in the earlier stages of the process, such as the initial application, renewals and (if required) mandatory reconsideration.

How does the service benefit mental wellbeing?

As we are all aware, the financial strain of modern life can have a major impact on our mental health and wellbeing, and can be a large contributor to both anxiety and depression. By helping those who use our service to secure a degree of financial stability, we can remove some of the factors that have a negative impact on their wellbeing, and hopefully allow them to concentrate their efforts on improving their mental health and overall wellbeing. 

What sort of challenges do people who utilise the service face?

The greatest challenge for people using the service is navigating a benefits system in which the assessment process is not properly designed to take mental health conditions and their impact on daily life into account. This means that many people claiming on the grounds of mental health conditions are initially rejected, meaning that they need specialist help and struggle with the increased anxiety and stress that the feeling of ‘not being believed’ brings on.

What are some of the successful outcomes you see from people after they’ve reached out to the service?

Some people have said that getting the award they are entitled, through our support, has been ‘life changing’. Others feel a great sense of relief that their own feelings about their conditions have been validated, and that they are now recognised as needing support by DWP.

All of the people we have helped to successful outcomes have said that the financial difference made means that they will struggle less in the future, and will have less to worry about moving forward.

What’s your favourite thing about working at the Welfare Benefit Service?

My favourite thing about the role is the reactions of the people I help, many of whom were ready to give up their battle with DWP before we got involved.

And the hardest part?

The hardest part is thinking that there is a need for this service at all, and that the system that is supposed to help the vulnerable. In many cases i does the exact opposite, meaning that we have to intervene to obtain a fair outcome. 

Thank you, Graeme, for telling us all about Bath Mind’s Welfare Benefit Service! You can find out more about the service here.

Posted on: 29th June 2023

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