We’d like to update everyone on what we have been doing since the last Mali Jenkins grant was awarded in June 2015.
In 2016, we ran a pilot scheme in Surrey, financed by a generous local legacy. We used this to test how local knowledge could help us reach those in most need and trial new ways to respond quickly to applications. Throughout 2017 we continued to award grants in the pilot area and if our Local Advisers found cases of particular need in other areas we were also able to offer help.
We’ve chosen four areas to start rolling out the new grants and together these areas provide a mix of urban and rural challenge, pockets of significant economic deprivation and areas of high ethnic diversity. They account in total for approximately 23% of the total number of people with Parkinson’s across the UK. We’re testing new processes and procedures out in these areas, and plan to move to full UK wide access in 2019. We’re sorry it’s taken so long to get the new process up and running but hope that the new scheme will ultimately help us to reach more people, and those who are in the greatest need.
We’ve made changes to improve the way we offer grants. Our updated materials now comply with recommendations from the Disability Rights Consortium and application packs can be downloaded so that more people can choose to access information from our website. We’re recruiting and training more grants panel members and holding more frequent panel reviews so applications move quickly to award.
We’ve introduced an ‘activities’ grant to bring exercise and therapeutic activity to people coping with financial need. We’ve put greater emphasis on what an applicant tells us about the impact the grant will have on their quality of life and every applicant is now offered support to ensure that they are accessing their full benefits entitlement.
We’d also like to remind people that our information and support services work directly with families living with Parkinson’s. People living everywhere in the UK can access our Helpline, our Local Adviser service. Our Local Advisers are based all around the country, and are well placed to support people in helping them to access local financial support. We’ve invested in a specialist benefits and employment service in response to feedback from people living with Parkinson’s. Cases are escalated to the service and Tim Moore, the service manager says:-
“The team can spend many months working with a client and their family, often through a reconsideration or appeal when they are turned down for a sickness or disability benefit. This gives the client representation to help them to navigate through a really complicated legal process and make their case.
Nationally, the number of benefit appeals has risen significantly in recent years, so this support is more important than ever. The team’s current success rate in changing benefit decisions is over 90%, compared to the national average of around 60%.
I’d like to share a couple of examples of the team’s successes:-
A client in his 50s, had to stop work for health and safety reasons due to Parkinson’s. He claimed sickness benefit (ESA) but was assessed and found fit to work. The DWP gave him 0 points for all activities. We supported him through the appeal process, where he was awarded the highest rate of sickness benefit and his local adviser also helped him claim a Blue Badge and disability benefit (PIP) which he has received at the highest rate for both daily living and mobility. He is now £12,934/year better off.
A client has been paid over £13,000 in backdated premiums on Pension Credit due to a benefit check and subsequent advice. “
While all this has been going on our amazing local groups have continued to offer grants in their communities totalling between £250,000 and £300,000 each year - so with their help we’ve continued to support those who need financial help.
You can read more about Take Control Grants at http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/about-us/parkinsons-uk-take-control-grants where you’ll also find information about other sources of financial help, and more detail about how to access our information and support services. And if you’d like to discuss any of this in more detail, please contact our Director of Support and Local Networks, Katherine Crawford on 0344 225 3720 or at [email protected]
Parkinson’s UK Moderation Team