Sarah

Sarah is a 24-year-old Autistic adult with Learning Difficulties and physical health problems who was in foster care until she was 18 years old. Since leaving foster care Sarah has been living independently with support from Social Services to ensure that she is safe, healthy and happy.

 

When I first met Sarah, she was living in a one-bedroom flat with her brother and 2 dogs. Sarah was struggling with anti-social behaviour from her neighbours who were harassing her on a regular basis. Sarah’s social worker was concerned about Sarah’s mental health deteriorating due to the stress of her living situation.

 

In addition to the above, Sarah was in breach of her tenancy due to having 2 dogs in a property that the housing provider would only allow 1 dog due to the property size. The property was overcrowded as her brother was staying with her and this was going to be a long-term arrangement. Sarah advised that she had spoken to her landlord who had mentioned the eviction process.

 

Sarah was in receipt of all of the Benefits that she was entitled and was in receipt of ‘Legacy Benefits’

Sarah’s situation was complex and there were lots of issues that needed unravelling. Sarah had difficulty explaining her circumstances as she was struggling to understand the formal processes that were happening to her.

The first thing that we did was get a form of authority signed which enabled us to contact the relevant bodies about Sarah’s case. We contacted Sarah’s current Housing provider to advise that we would be working with Sarah to look for alternative accommodation and to request that any eviction process be put on hold to allow us that time. Fortunately, no eviction procedures had been implemented at this stage, but a formal notice was being prepared.

We engaged with the Housing provider on Sarah’s behalf and helped them to understand the difficulties that Sarah has due to her Autism and Learning Difficulties. The Housing provider was satisfied that steps were being taken to move Sarah on from this property and advised on their criteria for a larger property in stock that they held which would mean that she would not be in breach for having 2 dogs.

Once the immediate threat of eviction was alleviated, we then had a look at the existing housing applications and ‘bids’ that Sarah had made on various properties across the Tees Valley. The application process for a social landlord property is not straight forward and can be confusing. Although Sarah has successfully bid on properties there was lots of information missing from her bidding profile which meant that she was not being considered for properties, but she was not aware of this and continued to bid.

We went through Sarah’s bidding profiles on the two main Social Housing providers in the area and updated/ added relevant information so that she would at least be considered for the properties that she was bidding on. This took some time due to Sarah having difficulty accessing the information required for both her and her brother who is also an Autistic young adult with Learning Difficulties. Like many young people Sarah and her brother struggled to get proof of ID and National Insurance number which are both requirements in the Housing application process. We managed to gather the relevant information from Benefit letters and supporting documents from Sarah’s social worker.

Once Sarah’s profile was up to date she successfully bid and then was offered a property that was big enough for her and her family unit. The property was near Sarah’s family members and a good support network for her and her brother. Once the affordability check was done things moved really fast for Sarah and her brother and they were in the new property within a week. Sarah already had a fully furnished house so there was no need to apply for any grants.

The next hurdle that we needed to cross was the change in the Benefits that Sarah was claiming. There are some complex rules around changing from a ‘Legacy Benefit’ to Universal Credit when you have certain premiums in payment in a Legacy Benefit and there is a 5 week wait for your first payment of Universal Credit. Sarah is used to budgeting fortnightly and Sarah would not be able to manage such a big change to her finances. It is important that when claiming UC for the first time that the claim is set up correctly. Sarah was not confident with this process and required support with the initial claim, the lengthy form regarding her health and disabilities and with the face-to-face appointments that she had to attend.

The face-to-face appointments are to ascertain what your claimant commitment level is and subsequently what level of job search you are expected to perform per week. Sarah was previously assessed as being able to do some work-related activity but after speaking with her social worker and seeing her needs assessment it was felt that this was not the correct group for Sarah and that it would be more appropriate for any work related activity that Sarah took part in to be on a voluntary basis and therefore have no sanctions or conditions applied to it. We are in the process of appealing Sarah’s Benefit award to place her in the correct group.

Whilst supporting Sarah with her housing and benefit issues she received a renewal form for her Personal Independence Payment. Sarah’s condition had worsened since the last time that she claimed PIP and she now struggled physically. We supported Sarah with the application and included her care plan as evidence and we were successful in an uprating of her award to include the enhanced rate of the mobility component whilst maintaining her enhanced rate of the daily living component.

Sarah was one of my first cases and support is ongoing. Although Sarah is settled in her new property and is happy with where she is, she does require a higher level of support for general day to day tasks, specifically around managing household bills. Sarah was signed off from her Social Worker when she moved Boroughs, so we have restarted the process for a Social Work assessment in the Borough that she now resides due to the level of support that Sarah and her brother need.

Sarah’s brother is also a client that I am working with. As Sarah’s case progressed, I became more aware of her brother’s circumstances and that he is having great difficulty with the Benefit’s system, and he too has been placed in the wrong group on Universal Credit.

The progress that we are making takes time but step by step the pieces are falling into place. Their living situation has already improved drastically, and I am confident that by the end of the year their Benefits will be correct. I will continue to provide support to Sarah and her brother for as long as required.

Why did you need help from Beccy in the Daisy Chain Housing and Benefits service?: Because I didnt know how to do it myself
How did Beccy help you with your Housing and Benefits?: 
Coming to meetings with me and filling in forms
What would be the impact on you if this service did not exist?: 
I wouldnt know what to do and would needed the help
Would you recommend the Housing and Benefits service to other Autistic people who are struggling with Housing or Benefits? : 
Yes
Please explain your answer:: 
Because there is people like me out there that struggle like me

Peter

Peter came through to the Housing and Benefit team as a referral from our Family Support team.
There had been a relationship breakdown in the family home and Peter was now homeless and
sofa surfing.

Peter had recently been diagnosed with Autism and ADHD at the age of 28, he was struggling to
come to terms with his diagnosis and was seeking support from Daisy Chain with this.

Peter was unemployed and difficult to engage with. On the first two attempts to speak with him
about his housing situation or his Benefits he was quick to shut the conversation down and
explained that he was fine and didn’t need support, but his situation remained the same.

We continued to contact Peter to check on his wellbeing and through these conversations we
were able to offer support in the way of advice to help Peter navigate the process for renting a
property and understanding his responsibilities as a tenant. The information provided empowered
Peter to apply for a property.

Peter was offered a house/ tenancy of his own in an area that was familiar to him and at that
point we managed to secure grants for decorating and carpets as part of the package that he
received from his landlord.

Peter had a PIP form that he had been putting off completing and the deadline to return the form
was nearing. We offered to help Peter complete the form which he initially declined but did not
state why he didn’t want the help. On further investigation through conversations with Peter we
discovered that Peter would have struggled to get from where he lived to Stockton. We offered
Peter an appointment at a doctor’s surgery local to where he lived to support him with the PIP
form and Peter agreed to the support. We are still waiting for the outcome of the PIP claim as this
can be a lengthy process, but it is expected that this will be a successful claim.

During the time that I was working with Peter he became more engaging and his confidence in
dealing with situations grew; he secured a full-time job which was great for his self esteem and
confidence. The level of support that Peter required was at a lower level but having someone to
guide him through processes that were new to him was key in him moving forward.

Although I am not working with Peter directly at this point, I do still receive the odd text from him
to ask for advice on random housing issues and at a time when Peter has limited family support it
is important that he has someone to go to for that advice.

Why did you need help from Beccy in the Daisy Chain Housing and Benefits service?: I was new to single life and didnt have a clue with regards to how to get a house or what benefits I should be getting
How did Beccy help you with your Housing and Benefits?: 
Beccy gave me all of the advice that I needed and pointed me in the right direction when I didnt know
What would be the impact on you if this service did not exist?: 
I would still be sofa surfing and struggling. I dont know where id be if Beccy didnt step in to be fair
Would you recommend the Housing and Benefits service to other Autistic people who are struggling with Housing or Benefits? : 
Yes
Please explain your answer:: 
It helped me, really friendly, supportive, lots of information available and lots of help available. Just really helpful

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