Last week we heard the amazing news that a local disability advice service which was to close after CCG funding ended has been saved by a fantastic crowdfunding campaign.
Possibility People, which ran the only specialist disability advice service in Brighton and Hove offering benefit help, was told in March that when its current funding ended it would not be renewed. This left disabled people who needed help with benefits such as Personal Independence Payments with no specialist service. It was clear from the numbers how much the service was valued and needed – in the previous 12 months the service had received 4468 enquires and supported 2285 clients.
Despite pleas from Possibility People and groups in the city, the CCG were adamant that the service was not needed and would not receive further funding. So, the service launched a crowd-funding campaign and now the money raised, coupled with a new grant they have received from The Henry Smith foundation meant that on 10th June, they started a new service to support disabled people challenging unfavourable benefit decisions.
I’ve been working hard to support the service throughout the campaign – I was so upset that in this era of Universal Credit roll-out, service cuts and welfare slash and burn, that the Disability Advice Centre would not be there after March to provide guidance to my constituents. The successful crowd-funding shows just how much the service is valued in the city. The smooth running of my constituency office certainly depends on it.
The idea is that the Advice Centre will recruit peer supporters – people who have themselves been through an appeal or tribunal – who will have the time and training to support clients going through these stressful and challenging events. The bigger plan is to be able to run peer support sessions in the community, as well as at The Advice Centre.
So, I want to say thank you to all the people who donated; this people power will give help and support to those in the city that are one of the most isolated and in-need groups.