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“Best job in the world!”

“Best job in the world!”

For Jenny Coupland, working as one of our Welfare Benefits Advisors is the “best job in the world.”

jenny crop

“It’s hearing the sound of relief in the resident’s voice when we get a solution to their benefits problem and increase the money they receive,” said Jenny, “that’s hugely rewarding.”

Jenny has worked for Together Housing for 10 years. In that time, she’s seen big changes in the benefits system. Universal Credit replaced 6 older benefits and the Government made more changes to the system recently to respond to the coronavirus crisis. “Many residents who haven’t claimed benefits for a long time don’t realise how much it has changed,” said Jenny. “It can be complicated and difficult to understand. We’ve kept up with all the new rules to support people through the crisis and we can provide expert help. Residents are often surprised to find out they are entitled to claim.”

If you want to check you are getting all the money you should be, or you’re having a problem claiming, contact us now. Jenny and her colleagues first do a benefits check, they look at a resident’s circumstances and make sure they are receiving the right amount and if there are any other benefits they can claim. Jenny said: “We can often give you the right advice in one or two phone calls, so it’s really worth residents getting in touch. We may then make follow up calls when we ask a resident to do something, such as update their Universal Credit Journal, and to check they have received the correct benefit. We can assist the resident to resolve benefit difficulties and may speak to Universal Credit and other benefits offices on their behalf. In complicated cases where things have gone wrong and take longer, we’ll continue to advise and assist residents until it’s sorted out.”

The number of residents needing advice and assistance from our Welfare Benefits Team has increased massively since the start of the crisis, but we’re able to respond to everyone who contacts us. We’re expecting more residents to need our help when the Government ends the furlough scheme in October and redundancies increase. “It’s been the busiest time ever,” said Jenny, “many residents have been in a desperate situation. They’ve lost their jobs overnight and literally have no money. They can’t buy food or afford gas and electricity. Many people I speak with at the moment are beside themselves with worry.”

Other advice services might take a couple of weeks to reply, but our Advisors can respond to residents in a crisis within 24 hours. We can put residents in touch with local food banks, advise them about claiming an advanced payment or discretionary housing payment to get more money to help with their housing costs, advise on what to say to energy suppliers and for residents in extreme hardship, we can explain how to get a grant for white goods such as cookers and washing machines. We also refer residents for help getting into work and advise residents if they’re eligible for sickness and disability benefits which can really improve people’s quality of life.

Sometimes, residents talk about other personal or family problems when they speak to us about their benefits and we can refer them to other teams in Together Housing and specialist agencies that can help. “Occasionally, a resident will mention something that sets my alarm bell ringing,” said Jenny. “I check the resident is safe to talk and they may disclose they are a victim of domestic abuse. Working with my colleagues who are trained to provide support, we can put special help in place or help the resident to contact the police if that is what they want to do.” If you are a victim of crime or have a personal or health problem, you can talk to Together Housing. We will help if we can or advise on the support available from other services and groups.      

For Jenny, it’s all about helping people. “It’s a great feeling at the end of a call when you’ve helped a resident to increase their income and you know this is going to make a huge difference to them. Now they can pay their rent, so their home is secure, afford their bills and other essentials such as prescriptions, and have money to live on. Helping people is the most fantastic job in the world – you can’t put a price on it!”

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