Rob Barnett: 10 Ways to Support People on Benefits

Some really thoughtful but practical advice on how to help people on benefits. Lots of signposting to websites which have a wealth of information.

10 ways to support people on benefits

1. Listen and support – Spend time with people you know. Find out how they are doing and show that you’re there for them. Share some of the ideas below.

2. Encourage them to do something that’ll make them feel better – This could be spending time in nature, like a walk in a park or the countryside. It may be reading a book, seeing a friend or going to a community group. Some of these can be done for free.

3. Give them helpful information – for instance the Mental Health and Money Advice website: www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org – Recognising that everybody’s different, it offers advice for people on benefits and for those who know people who are, whether they are friends, family, colleagues or even someone they are a carer for.

4. Go with them to their next benefits appointment – This could be a Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) appointment or a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) review. Ask if it’s ok to go along. You’ll be able to provide support even just by being there.

5. Get involved in a campaign – Whether or not you know people on benefits (or you realise that you know people), you can support a cause. For example, Mind is campaigning for a fairer benefits system, campaigning on back-to-work, sanctions, Work Capability Assessment and Personal Independence Payment: www.mind.org.uk/about-us/our-policy-work/benefits

6. Volunteer – You could volunteer your time in person. This could be at a food bank. The Trussell Trust has more information: www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/volunteer . Or you could volunteer at your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Take this two-minute quiz to help you find out more. Other local volunteering opportunities can be found through Voluntary Action Sheffield: www.vas.org.uk

7. Check that they’re getting all the benefits they’re entitled to – This could be with benefits for family, work, low income or health & the elderly. There’s more information here: www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/benefits-check.

8. If they’re in the right place, help them to write a CV/apply for a job – There’s lots of online advice about writing CV. Here is what Scope say: www.scope.org.uk/Support/Disabled-people/Work/applying-interview/writing-a-CV  There’s also lots of jobs websites to choose from. Whichever you use, be sure to read all the job description details provided like the experience required for the role. If you have questions about a job that aren’t answered in the advert, make a phone call or send an email. Even if contact details aren’t provided, you can normally find some via Google. People with a disability should be aware that, by law, they are guaranteed an interview if they disclose it at application stage and meet the minimum criteria for a job.

9. Make sure they’re getting the mental health support they need – For people living in or near Sheffield, advice about this can be found in the Sheffield Mental Health Guide: www.sheffieldmentalhealth.co.uk . This could be about anything from anxiety to work-related issues.

10. Do something now! You’ve read this far. Don’t forget about this. Think about people you know on benefits and think what you can do to support them. If you don’t think you know anyone, you can get involved in a campaign or volunteer your time in other ways.

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