Support through COVID-19 enabled by the power of Networking

Eastern European man

Stock photograph with permission

F.O is an Eastern European from Romania and his English is limited.  He came to the Jesus Centre as street homeless and recently out of employment.  He used our services for showers, clothes, breakfast, postal address, computer and support/advice.  

The JCT (Jesus Centre Trust) works with many agencies in the city and F.O was referred by us to the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre to apply for EU Settled Status.  This was duly awarded.

Universal Credit Help

Once he got settled status, he came back to the JCT for help to apply online for Universal Credit.  Our Support Worker, with the help of another member of staff who spoke his language, helped him with this online application and then also helped him get all his ID documents together which he handed into the DWP Office. He was given a date for an interview which fell on the last day of the JCT being open. 

Working from home the following week, our Support Worker tried to contact F.O but did not hear from him until the following Saturday. He informed her that he had been moved from the Winter Night Shelter to a hotel and was needing toiletries.  We arranged to deliver these to him at the hotel as well as his post. He then revealed that his Universal Credit claim had been closed. F.O gave permission to access his account but as his claim was closed nothing could be written in his journal. 

Networking at its best

Due to COVID-19 and lockdown, it was impossible to get through to the Universal Credit helpline.  Thankfully, our Support Worker had built up contacts with an officer at the local Job Centre and managed to contact him via his mobile/email.  He was able to access F.O’s account and said F.O had put in a new claim and that this had been done through a worker at Crisis UK. Because of this new claim, his first claim had been closed.  However, the first claim had failed in any case due to his failure of the habitual residency test. Our Support Worker explained that he had EU Settled Status which meant the habitual residency test was not needed. Apparently this was not evident from what was recorded on either claim.

The benefit of the many contacts made by the JCT staff with other agencies in Coventry over many years paid dividends again and enabled our Support Worker to contact the Crisis UK worker to ask her to add his status to his journal and to link this to his first claim. This meant that payment could be backdated to when F.O first applied and he will have regular income until he, as so many, is able to find employment again.

Published 20th April 2020 with tags: change COVID-19 refugees Universal Credit working together

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