A day in the life of a Welfare Benefits advisor
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 08:55
WELFARE BENEFITS HELPLINE
0844 357 1033
In the last year alone, the Grandparents’ Association benefits advice service has helped grandparents get previously unclaimed benefits worth more than £350,000. Here, a welfare benefits advisor tells how she helped other grandparents do just that.
When I walk into the office in the morning, I never know what the day is going to bring. Will I have time to put the kettle on? Yes. But will I have time to actually make a drink? I live in hope.
My role with the Grandparents' Association as one of its welfare benefits advisors ranges from answering emails to taking telephone calls on the benefits line and helpline. I've been with the charity for eight years, starting out as volunteer answering calls from home for an hour a week, and now work 20 hours a week from an office in Leeds. My personal experience, as a grandparent bringing up two grandchildren on a residence order, has helped me help others in the same position.
The benefits line gets calls from all over the country. Some come from grandparents raising their grandchildren on a shoestring, many struggling to keep their heads above water as they continue to strive to give their grandchildren all they need and deserve.
Here are just some of the questions we're asked:
- Who can claim the child benefit when the care of a child is shared between one parent and the grandparents?
- We've looked after our grandchildren for a long time, but we've never had a holiday. Is there any help we can get to pay for one?
- What types of benefits can a grandparent claim who is caring for their grandchild full time?
- Why does the lady I speak to in the playground get a residence order allowance and we don’t?
Some of the stories make me sad, but we can’t help everyone – I wish we could. Some of the things I hear make me cross, because the grandparents have had the wool pulled over their eyes and, by the time they call us, our advice is too late. Other calls give me a great feeling of job satisfaction, when I can leave at the end of the day knowing that I've helped someone get the financial help that they need.
Did I leave happy today? Yes, I did. I got the money through for two small claims, and I gave a grandmother the information she needs so that, when she has her next meeting with social services, she knows what questions to ask about the financial help they should be giving her. I also had a thank-you email from a grandmother who has got a benefit that she hadn't even known she could claim for.
What we need is a 'secret millionaire', someone who'd be willing to donate to a fund so that we could always help everyone. We can’t do that, so I have to be content with knowing what grandparents are entitled to and where to go to get it.
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