AIM AND MISSION
To promote social justice and combat poverty by providing free and independent advice and support in North Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
We help people at times of crisis, work to address the causes of deprivation and support people to take practical steps to improve their situation in the longer term.
Increase social justice and improve financial wellbeing.
Increase skills and confidence and access to training.
Increase and promote digital inclusion.
Support and strengthen the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve, building resilience.
Connie, 45, was in an abusive relationship. The situation escalated during lockdown and she was desperate to move out with her 7 year old son. Her partner controlled the finances and she did not have enough money for daily costs. She was struggling to pay back a child tax credit overpayment, incurred on their joint claim when her ex-partner failed to notify HMRC of an increase in income. Fearful of confronting him, she arranged monthly payments to cover the overpayment herself, increasing the strain on her finances.
Our adviser helped Connie to navigate her entitlement to benefits so she was able to move out. We helped Connie to apply for Universal Credit, including an element for rent and full Council Tax Reduction. We also contacted HMRC to reduce her tax credit repayment by half, with the rest to be paid by her ex-partner. We made sure the HMRC got in touch with the ex-partner themselves to inform him of this and to enforce this repayment because Connie did not feel safe in doing so herself.
Connie is now living independently with her son in their own flat and is happy and safe
Sarah, 32, is a single mum with a disabled 8 year old son. She has Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy, a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. She worked until her condition deteriorated and she was retired on health grounds. Sarah applied for PIP but was awarded zero points. She lodged a Mandatory Reconsideration, but this was unsuccessful. Desperate, Sarah came to North Bristol Advice Centre for help to appeal. Our advice caseworker helped Sarah prepare her documents, including medical evidence from her doctors, and accompanied her to tribunal. She was awarded the maximum rate for both components, totalling £141.10 a week.
“I lost my job back in May last year. I applied for PIP and at the assessment the nurse gave me points, but not very many. She didn’t know about my condition and didn’t understand it so she couldn’t see how it affects me. Then I got a letter saying I didn’t qualify, giving me zero points. The DWP just seemed to ignore all the points I made.
We were lucky to find out about North Bristol Advice Centre. Coming here the first time, I felt Ruth could help because she knows about PIP. I think the way the information was presented to the authorities was very professional.
It was very quick in the court. They asked me a few questions and said we’re going to award you the higher rate. We were there 15 minutes and got the maximum award from zero.
I really feel sorry for people who haven’t got access to support who qualify for PIP. I don’t think I would have got any money if we hadn’t had the advice.”