CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Advocacy in action

04 December, 2017

Catherine had serious issues with disrepairs in her house for over two years.

She had damp caused by vandalism which saw her skylight damaged and the railings around it removed.

“The water came down from the skylight and interfered with the electrics. There were switches I couldn’t use”, she says. The kitchen was unuseable. She also needed a new radiator and rubbish cleared from the garden.

However, the landlord’s agent would not respond to her requests for repairs. Islington –based charity, ScotsCare, which helps Scots in London, stepped in and made a formal complaint to the landlord’s agency on her behalf.

However, that was also ignored. Her Advocacy Worker, Gearóid Davey, appealed to the Ombudsman, who ruled in Catherine’s favour, which meant that the landlord and its agency had to take action.

The work is nearing completion, with a new skylight and a remodelled kitchen. Also, the radiator has been replaced and the rubbish has been removed. Advocacy is one of ScotsCare’s most successful services. Its purpose is to help clients get the benefits or services they are entitled to receive.

The client, called the advocacy partner, is supported every step of the way. It can be a long road as cases can take many months as the appeal procedure is lengthy and complex. Catherine says of Gearóid “He’s been a lifesaver actually. He’s always there at the end of the phone..”

The process of appealing a benefits decision or making a formal complaint regarding healthcare or housing disrepair issues can be complex and many of ScotsCare’s clients are unable to navigate their way through the process.

This can be benefit assessments, transitions from older to newer benefits, appeals, lack of access to secure affordable housing, housing disrepair, and many others.

This year the number of their clients requiring help with the assessment stage of applying for benefits and again at the appeal stage has almost doubled since last year.

“Some local authorities deal with cases in a purely automated way.

Trying to get past that, requesting face to face meetings, sitting down with heads of housing or social services departments, gets decisions changed, because there is a real person in front of them who looks like their mother, their brother or their sister. “

The video of Catherine’s story is at www.scotscare.com/videos

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