'I waited nearly two years for benefits cheque', claims woman who slept rough on streets of Doncaster
A Doncaster woman who battled homelessness and drug addiction to put herself on the road to recovery claims the Government took more than a year to process her benefits claim.
Kerry Fullwood slept rough on the streets of Doncaster after losing her home in Balby, and got heavily into the drug known as Spice. Now she is trying to turn her life around and has started college.
The 44-year-old also spent time in hostels and says she shock seeing a dead body in one affected her mental health.
She said she put an application in for benefits during her time in the hostel in 2017 – and says she finally received payment this week.
The total payment she received was £5,415.
She said: “They finally gave me the money at the end of September. They had the application for nearly two years, while I’ve been struggling to keep living.
“The application was made when I was living in a hostel. I had lost my home because I didn’t the money to pay for a rent increase. I was moved to another home, but it was not fit for human habitation.”
Kerry who had previously worked in a calls centre, stopped work in 2006 when she started to suffer pain related to an injury suffered in a motorcycling accident, which she had suffered while on holiday in Ibiza in 2001. But her disability benefits were later stopped.
After leaving the house she had been living in, she moved into the hostel. She had money paid straight to the hostel for her food and board. But she said had to leave after she was accused of assaulting another woman.
She lived on the streets for around six months, finally managing to get off the streets with help from a Changing Lives support worker. She has been off spice for a year and a half and is now in a flat in Intake.
She said she has seen medical experts about the psychological impact of living on the streets and in hostels, who now believe she suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
But now she hopes to turn her life around, and wants to get into a job that would give her the chance to help others who find themselves in the position she was in.
She has enrolled at Doncaster College to study GCSEs in English, maths and computer studies. She hopes this will lead to her enrolling on an access course for a social science degree.
“I want to help people who are where I have been,” she said.
“It feels great to be going back to college. It feels like I’ve got my life from 20 years ago before I started taking drugs.
“I feel I’ve got where I am now through my own strength of mind.”
“But I have been told they will not pay me personal independence payments for my disability if I am in college. I feel like they are disadvantaging me for trying to better myself. My rent goes straight to the council. I was living on £285 a month, but that has been slightly increased.” She has to pay £18 bedroom tax money because she is living in a two bedroom flat in Intake.
In a statement, the DWP said Kerry had been provided with a backdated payment of Severe Disability Premium as part of the transition to Universal Credit.
It added: “We’re committed to ensuring that everyone with a disability or health condition receives the right level of support.
“Decisions about PIP are made following careful consideration of the evidence provided by the individual as well as their GP or medical specialist and anyone who disagrees with the decision can ask for a review.
“In this case the additional payment was granted following a review of Ms Fullwood’s claim as part of a move to Universal Credit.
“Ms Fullwood continues to be supported through Universal Credit.”
They said PIP benefit does not take into consideration if claimants work or attend college, and is a non means-tested benefit, which means that claimants entitled to PIP can continue to receive the benefit regardless of other personal circumstances.
A free and independent appeals process was available where claimants can provide any further documentation if they disagree with the decision made.
The Government claims Universal Credit is a force for good, with more than two million people now receiving support. They say that under Universal Credit, people get financial help if they’re unemployed, in low-paid employment or unable to work.
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