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Advocard update

Thanks very much to everyone who joined us at the June meeting whether in person or via Zoom.

Apologies for the particularly bad sound issues on Zoom and thanks for your patience. We have taken advice from an expert and are in the process of upgrading the audio equipment, please bear with us while we undertake this.

We were joined by Arlene Astley, Operations & Development Manager with Advocard. Advocacy means getting support from another person to help you express your views and wishes, and help you stand up for your rights.

Advocard provide services for people living in Edinburgh who are experiencing challenges due to mental health issues, problematic substance use or are in prison.

Appointments are available in-person at Advocard's main office at 4 Duncan Place, Leith or their office located in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (Andrew Duncan Clinic). Advocard also run Drop-in sessions in the community.

Advocacy workers provide support to fill in application forms for welfare benefits and Arlene stressed the importance of answering the questions from both perspectives of being high and low for people living with bipolar. Capture as much relevant information as possible and ask someone involved in your care to write a letter about how the illness affects your day to day life. This can be a health professional or your family and friends. There is currently a 17 week backlog of forms waiting to be assessed.

An advocacy worker can attend a benefits assessment with you either in person or over the phone as part of a conference call. The large majority of assessments take place over the phone however you can ask to be assessed in person. You can also put in a request to Social Security Scotland (SSS) to be assessed at home.

They can help you to put together a mandatory reconsideration if you wish to challenge the outcome of the assessment but are not able to attend appeals.

Arlene gave us an update on the situation re transferring from Personal Independence Payment to Adult Disability Payment. People who aren't due to be assessed yet will be transferred straight across and will receive a letter to let them know when that has happened.

If your PIP is due to be assessed this year you will receive a letter asking about your circumstances and if they are still the same then you can tick 'nothing has changed' and you will be transferred straight over. The amount of benefit you receive will stay the same.

If your situation has worsened then you may be entitled to extra benefits and should fill in the form sent by SSS along with evidence .

Advocard can also

  • Provide support to apply for Employment and Support Allowance

  • Help to write an Advance Statement

  • Help with Food Bank referrals

  • Talk to you about your options and rights

  • Arrange meetings with doctors, lawyers, social worker and others

  • Contact DWP, Social Security Scotland or other agencies with you regarding any aspect of your claim

  • Attend job centre appointments with you to make sure you are listened to

Thanks once again to Arlene and everyone at Advocard for their continued support which is much appreciated!


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