Beatrice on why she is so happy with her volunteering role at NBAC

June 29 2018
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Last month we brought you the story on Buzz’s Peter Evans and what he gets from his volunteering role. This month it is the turn of North Bristol Advice Centre, and their volunteer Beatrice Phanjoo.

What interested you about the volunteer Sharp role with NBAC?

I am studying at UWE and it looked like a good way to extend my experience beyond just being at uni. I’d heard about NBAC and their wonderful sense of community and that pushed me into finding out more about the Sharp role. I was also very keen to help people in a local community as I think that’s the best way to reach people and offer help and support.

- What do you do day to day?

I help people who want to appeal against the DWP’s decision to reject their benefit claim. I meet with the clients to find out more about their health conditions and how it affects their lives. I then draft documents for their tribunal hearings and accompany them to their appeal appointments at the tribunals which are held in the magistrates court in central Bristol.

- What keeps you interested?

The people I meet and having an opportunity to help. Being a Sharp volunteer gives you a real opportunity to make a difference. Knowing how the appeal works and what to do means the clients generally feel less stressed at the tribunal AND we have an extremely good rate at overturning the DWP’s decisions ensuring the clients get the benefits they are entitled to. Over the past 8 months I have worked with 7 clients and all have been successful in being granted some level of benefits.

- Are there any memorable moments you would like to share?

Supporting my first client I think I was probably just as scared as they were going to the tribunal but knowing how much pain they were suffering I was driven to represent her position as best as possible. The tribunal, as an independent panel, gave her the opportunity to speak about their condition and how it affected their life which led to a very positive outcome for the client. The client’s claim for PIP was granted! I gained a tremendous amount from knowing I could help someone and from seeing their condition acknowledged and recognised by the panel.

- Do you have any words for people who may be in the position of having their benefit claim rejected?

Don’t give up! It’s definitely worth approaching an advice agency such as NBAC for support and help. More than 70% of the clients we work with have DWP decisions overturned and do indeed receive the benefits they are due. I’m really happy to be working with NBAC and doing my bit to support people within the local community. There are lots of different volunteer roles available here at North Bristol Advice centre and anyone joining as a volunteer will definitely be supported by the team.