The client came to us with his primary school age daughter. The previous night, the child had been removed from her mother’s care by Social Services due to the risk posed to the child by the mother’s mental health problems. None of the child’s belongings were brought with her. Although the office was only offering telephone advice that day, the crisis was so obvious that the Supervisor opened for a face to face appointment. The client was living in a House of Multiple Occupancy, had no income and was in rent arrears. He had already approached the Local Authority for help, but as he was not homeless he was told there was nothing they could do.
The client was given a food parcel to help him feed himself and the child. He was a type-1 diabetic and his health was suffering from the stress of the situation. After arranging for the client to receive food, our Adviser went on to examine the family’s circumstances to start resolving the underlying issues. The client was not a British national, but had indefinite leave to remain and was entitled to recourse to public funds. He had made a claim for Universal Credit, but his claim was turned down because he had lost his passport. Our Adviser worked with Suffolk County Council’s Financial Inclusion and Advice Service (FIAS) to work out what documents the client could use to demonstrate his immigration status to DWP. It took several advice sessions and further conversations with FIAS to resolve this problem with the DWP, and eventually DWP accepted that the client could use the documents that he had to prove his status but told him to start his claim again. During the period that the DWP was refusing to accept his claim our team applied for further charitable support for the family.
At the first appointment, the Adviser also spoke with a social worker on the client’s behalf to ask that the child’s mother transfer any benefits she was receiving for the child to the father. The father might not be able to claim any benefits to enable him to support his child while the mother had a claim, so it was a priority to resolve this issue. In subsequent appointments, the client was given advice about how to make a claim for child benefit and how to apply for a school place for his daughter.
We applied on behalf of the client for a grant from the Stowmarket Lions to enable him to buy clothes for his daughter, as she had been brought to him with no clothes other than those she was wearing. He used some of the grant to fund travel to collect the child’s belonging. An Adviser also asked the client’s permission to apply to a Salvation Army scheme for the child to receive a Christmas present.
Following help from Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk, the child has started at a local school and the DWP accepted his application for Universal Credit. The family’s situation is starting to stabilise, and the charity will continue to assist him with any problems that arise with his benefit claims, housing or family law issues.