From a friend . . .
I usually feel – having had to do a number of times over the years, due to the loss of a job or having another child – anything from victimised or unlucky, frustrated to paranoid because you do what you’re asked but inevitably it never seems enough, delays, being made to feel like a burden or a waster, repetition of previous information provided…..god, I’m tired just thinking of it!
So yes, no housing benefit because I was no longer in receipt of income support, a situation which I had created because I was the only person following things up and notifying the various department in the areas concerned, so NO rent, NO council tax and NO INCOME support. Child benefit yes but hardly enough to sustain us or keep my landlady happy and a roof over our heads! I phoned again, explained the situation again, was told to give it another week as they didn’t appear to have received anything, I wasn’t on the system…OH GOD! No question of if I could manage, wait til then etc. The following week, I phoned again, I explained again, and was told (again!) that they hadn’t received my claim, I was however, located on the system and there was a note advising that a claim for had been sent out on.
I stressed my situation, tears welling up, explained that I didn’t think I could manage any longer, she talked, I started to cry, I was in in luck, she was sympathetic enough to respond, took my telephone number, and offered me a choice of two options but because I was in such a state on the phone by this time, I can’t for the life of me remember what they were, suffice to say she was trying to prompt me to request (without actually saying outright) the option that meant they had to treat my situation as urgent and respond within 5 hours.
I was on the bus, three hours later when I got a call from a rather ‘sniffy’, ‘short’ woman who verified who I was and stated that my claim had been processed and a cheque was prepared, did I want to come into the office or have it sent out 1st class. I request 1st class, I couldn’t have faced going into them having cried down the phone earlier. Anyway the cheque arrived the next day and I could breath again!
So, it took three hours to find, process and action my claim, after a period of 8 or 3 weeks, depending on which form you count from. All because I got someone who listened, and realised that something had to be done as I’d reached breaking point.
The bottom line is I didn’t shout loud enough, or hassle them frequently enough, if you are too polite, not assertive enough or just plain feel embarrassed or demeaned by the whole process then I don’t believe you get dealt with as quickly.
Does this all make sense? Tired and cold and thoroughly fed up by this pathetic little saga of mine!