As an Advocacy Officer my role can be quite varied, from supporting with benefits applications, liaising with renal units on patient issues, to providing information on CKD and its treatments. As mentioned in my first blog, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) forms a large part of my workload, but occasionally someone will come to me with more complex financial needs. Someone may have no income at all and want to know what benefits they are eligible for, or may find themselves in debt and unable to make ends meet. Thankfully, Auriga are there to help us with our more complex cases with their wealth of knowledge on benefits and debt management.
It all starts with a chat with your local Advocacy Officer, during our initial conversation we will discuss your background and what support you’re looking for at the moment. Often someone will be referred to me because they’re looking for extra information on a particular treatment and over the course of our phone call, or face-to-face conversation in what seems a previous life, we then discover that there are underlying financial concerns. If I think a patient will benefit from our Welfare and Benefits Health Check, I will tell them all about the service and ask if they would like me to refer them to Auriga. Within 48 hours a friendly advisor from Auriga will give you a call to start the process.
During this phone call, they will discuss your situation in-depth and will usually look at what money you have coming in at the moment, compared to what you’re paying out for things such as rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc. From there they will plan out what they can do improve your situation, this can be support with an unfair benefit decision, applying for benefits and schemes you didn’t know about or providing support with managing an existing debt. If you’re experiencing financial hardship your advisor will help you apply for a grant, either from Kidney Care UK or other organisations, to help you get back on your feet. We’ve worked closely with Auriga to ensure that the team are aware of all the ways that CKD can impact on your life, so they are able to apply this knowledge to your benefit appeal or grant application.
It could be that you are currently receiving the correct amount of benefits, but your household income is reduced because your partner is missing out on a benefit such as Carer’s Allowance or Pension Credit. No stone is left unturned in the Welfare and Benefits Health Check.
Auriga are there to support you for as long as you need it, you will have the same advisor with you that you can call when needed and they will keep you updated throughout the entire process. Although we will have referred you to Auriga, your Advocacy Officer will still be there to support you with any other concerns you have and will work with Auriga to ensure you get all the help you need.
Some of the success stories I’ve seen during my time working alongside Auriga include:
Layla* was initially referred to us for help with her PIP appeal, but it soon transpired that she was living in temporary accommodation and had no income other than PIP. She was referred to Auriga for support with claiming universal credit and they were able to source grants for some furniture to make her house a home for her.
Derek* needed help to appeal his PIP decision and was struggling to make ends meet. He was able to claim a hardship grant to help with utility bills and Auriga supported him with his appeal while preparing supporting evidence. Derek's* appeal was closed the day before the tribunal hearing thanks to Auriga's support and he is now receiving the benefit he had been refused for so long.
Getting support from Auriga couldn’t be easier and you couldn’t find a nicer bunch of people at the other end of the phone. If you would like a Welfare and Benefits Health Check, contact your local Advocacy Officer.
*Cases are based on real people but the names have been checked to protect their identity.
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