Marion's story — navigating the benefits maze

Marion and her advisor, BenI was referred to Southwark Advice Plus (SAP) by my support worker from the Southwark Mental Health Reablement team. I recently moved from Croydon and I had so many issues to deal with, I didn’t know where to start!

I have had depression and diabetes for many years, as well as a physical condition which leaves me in constant pain. My mobility is limited, and on bad days I really struggle to leave my house.

The support that I received from SAP has made such a huge difference to me. My advisor helped me to maximise my income by advising me on the benefits I’m entitled to and by helping me to claim the highest rates based on my condition. I found the benefit system so complicated but SAP were able to help me navigate this maze.

When my housing benefit was incorrectly stopped and I was told to apply for Universal Credit by Southwark Council, my advisor helped to get my housing benefit reinstated and stay on Employment Support Allowance as I would have been worse off under Universal Credit.

SAP also helped me to increase my Personal Independence Payment by £272 per month and advised me to claim a premium which increased my Employment Support Allowance by £264 per month.

This extra £536 a month has made a huge difference to my life, and has allowed me the freedom to live independently and better manage my mental health as I am less stressed about my finances. The extra income also means I can afford the more expensive foods that I need to buy due to my diabetes, and I have been able to join activity classes which help me manage the pain.

The service from SAP really was the most valuable support that I have ever received from an organisation. They helped me to deal with everything in a way which made me feel confident in myself. Thank you SAP!