Kevin came to COSS with a variety of needs including help with immigration, housing and employment. He is originally from Bangladesh and has lived in Italy. He speaks Bengali and has a very limited understanding of English. He was not claiming JSA and refused to do so, stating that he wanted to work to support himself and his family. Employability input started 21 November 2017 and final meeting was 10 January 2018. We worked with Kevin over 9 sessions, and he often dropped in to use social support services such as photocopying. He would also regularly bring letters he did not understand and ask staff to send emails or texts on his behalf.
Kevin had worked in a factory in Italy for 10 years manufacturing construction parts for housing. From Italy, he moved to London where he worked in Poundland and also completed his SIA (Door Security) training. He moved to Edinburgh in November 2017.
Communication with Kevin was difficult initially so we used Google translate on occasion to ensure our mutual understanding, we referred Kevin to The Welcoming in order to improve his English. We created a CV during Kevin’s first visits, and subsequent visits allowed us to apply for suitable jobs. He was often accompanied by his son who acted as an interpreter.
In December 2017 he secured an interview but was told that his English was not good enough for them to consider him. With further support, Kevin secured a job on a trial basis. Kevin also worked with our Advice Worker regarding aspects of immigration, education and visa information for his children and assistance with housing issues.
Alana has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years and this is now worsening. She had previously been in receipt of Disability Living Allowance and was informed by the Department for Work and Pensions that she had to apply for Personal Independence Payment as a replacement benefit. She had completed a “how your disability affects you” form herself, without any support. After her face to face health assessment her application was refused and her payments stopped. We submitted a detailed Mandatory Reconsideration, but her application was again refused.
We arranged for an advocate to accompany Alana to the Tribunal. Alana was awarded an ongoing Personal Independence Payment of £145.35 per week. With a large backdated payment to cover the time lapsed from her original application and COSS then being able to gain further benefits for her, she received an annual payment of just under £17,000. This back-payment enabled her to purchase an adapted car so she is much less isolated. This has greatly improved her sense of isolation and the depression that she was struggling with.
Claire is from an Ecuadorian background and has a 9 month old baby. She is a lone parent, living in temporary accommodation. She has almost no English language and was extremely isolated. She was fearful because of threatening neighbours and this led to her doctor diagnosing severe depression and anxiety. The Community One Stop Shop advice service is still working with her in conjunction with a translator to try and resolve her housing situation, but in the meantime we were able to access a grant of £175.00 from the Edinburgh and Lothian Trust Fund to buy items for her house that were in a state of disrepair or completely broken.
We also referred Claire to a local mother and baby group and baby gym classes where the tutor spoke her language. This physical exercise and social group enable her to feel less isolated and in turn has had a very positive impact on her depression and anxiety. She is starting to feel part of the community.