A day in the life… Sian- Benefits Adviser

Since April 2019 I have been working 3 days a week with Pure Innovations.

As a Benefits Advisor, my role usually involves going out and meeting clients and their families to ensure that they are claiming the benefits that they are entitled to, completing PIP forms and reviews, and often helping with other issues. I often help the same clients, and support them on an ongoing basis. It’s a varied role, and I love it.

I have personal experience of family with learning disabilities, and I know how difficult the system can be to navigate, so it is something I am really passionate about. It’s been quite an eye-opener for me, in realising how many families are not claiming what they should be.

Since March, like many of my colleagues I have been working from home. I have taken over my partner’s office so I have plenty of work space!

I must admit I thought it would be lovely at first working from home, but I have missed my colleagues and clients very much!

I have battled depression for many years, and I worried that this change would impact negatively on my mental health. I have had moments where it all became too much, but I have had amazing support from my manager and colleagues and I have learnt to take time out to make a coffee and calm down. I have had to adapt the way I work, but haven’t we all?

Here’s what today looked like…

6.45am

This was the second snooze on the alarm clock. Must get up! I used to be an early riser, but not so much anymore. Anyway I have two furry rescue girls who have plans for me!

7.15am

Two large coffee’s later (yes two in half an hour!!) and we are out of the door.

Luckily we live just a five minute drive from one of many lovely walks. Unfortunately last night’s walk didn’t quite go to plan, and I ended up doing a triple salchow that Torvill and Dean would have been proud of. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the return to terra firma as I landed very unceremoniously in a heap on the floor!

Trying to get up whilst laughing uncontrollably with two dogs sniffing at you is no easy feat (not to mention the embarrassment as someone tried to help me up!)

As you can imagine, this morning I am very stiff and sore!!

8.45 am

Back home and a shake for breakfast (someone has been in my wardrobe taking in all my clothes since March!)

Large coffee and into the office (followed by my 2 furry minders!)

Check my emails from Citizens Advice and also Pure. Check both work phones for any voice messages. One of the phones says I have a new voicemail from 2009!!! I don’t think so! :-/

9.15 am

Email- Two new clients into Pure Innovations require Better off Calculations. Spend the next couple of hours on these.

11.20am

Call from a client that I assisted with a UC claim for her daughter. She has had a letter in her journal and doesn’t understand and is worried. It’s good news-client has been put in the no work requirement group and so qualifies for the additional element.

I’m so pleased with this result as this is a client who was previously told that her daughter was not entitled to anything except PIP. It’s a fantastic feeling knowing that you have been able to help make such a difference to people’s lives.

12 noon

Call from one of my colleagues at Pure. A complex case with a client and benefits. It’s taken the best part of a year for myself and my colleague at Pure to gain the trust of this client and I am relieved she is now actively seeking our assistance. I arrange to call her this afternoon.

12.30pm

Lunch and catchup with the other half. Nothing exciting -crispbread and cottage cheese (for me at least). We sit in the garden with the girls for 30 mins.

1pm

I make the call to the client from this morning. It’s a long one as we need to go through so much. I realise the client is going to need a lot of support including making a non digital UC claim, and so I speak to the Help to Claim manager, Sue. Sue suggests that one of her team assists the client. I call the client back to make sure she is happy with this.

2.30pm

I return a few calls from colleagues at Pure Innovations with queries, including:

Should a client be entitled to Severe Disability Premium

Can I assist a client with information regarding housing and the breakdown of a relationship

Can a young person in non advanced education claim any benefits

3.30pm

Girls are getting restless again so another quick coffee break in the garden. They entertain themselves by running around like hooligans and barking at anyone who has the audacity to walk past their garden!

3.45pm

We recently had an email from our Manager asking if we would like to participate in some research the DWP Health Division are doing around Personal Independence Payments. I had a call today from one of the researchers explaining a bit more about it. I am glad to hear that they are looking at the end to end experience for clients.

Sadly for many of my clients it has been a very difficult and upsetting process.

4.30pm

I take a call on my landline from someone claiming to be from Sky telling me I have an issue with my Broadband. Unfortunately for the caller, I lack tolerance for scammers, so I wasn’t very polite! (I called Sky afterwards just to make sure it wasn’t them!)

4.55pm

A new team at Pure has asked if I could go through the Better off Calculation print out that I sent them so they can explain it to the clients. I print an example, and start to make notes on it.

5.20pm

The girls stir from their afternoon nap on the sofa, and remind me it’s time to finish for the day and take them out! I do a list of things for tomorrow.

7pm

Walk over and so it’s sofa and chill time…..

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Hayley Wright

Hayley Wright

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Comms and Engagement Manager at Citizens Advice SORT Group