Welfare Benefits advice and support
Project Category: Registered charity
Disability First Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) has been supporting people since 1992, through the specialist provision of services across Lancashire and Cumbria. We celebrated our 25th Anniversary last year. We were awarded the Most Outstanding Blackpool Charity in 2018 in recognition of the charity which has made the most difference in the community.
The organisation provides a portfolio of overlapping services that aim to promote health and wellbeing, enabling people with long term health conditions of all ages, to live independently.
We are one of the few charities on the Fylde Coast that provide a comprehensive Welfare Benefit Service. At grass roots level we help people with disabilities and their families to complete their disability benefit forms, and provide advice by phone and support clients through the benefits appeal process. Our volunteers support the clients emotionally at what can be a daunting and stressful experience, and their training enables them to express our client’s difficulties in their forms, to ensure they receive the financial support they need. This is especially important for our clients with mental health problems, autism or learning difficulties.
Disability First CIO has 18 volunteers who are the backbone of the organisation, providing key services including; Advice and information on a range of disability topics; Welfare benefit form completion; benefit reconsiderations; appeals tribunal representation and basic computer training.
Our welfare benefit tribunal representation is fully volunteer facilitated, with 96% of tribunals resulting in a successful outcome for our clients. Our volunteers help with form filling to start the appeals process, represent the client and attend the appeals to provide emotional support. One of our longest standing tribunal volunteers Jeanie King is currently in the finalists for the BBC Radio Lancashire Community Champion’s award.
The charity aims to empower disabled people, of all ages, and improve their quality of life. Blackpool is one of the 20% most deprived areas in England. The health of people in Blackpool is generally worse than the England average, and life expectancy is 13.6 years lower for men and 9.6 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of Blackpool. Welfare reform has increased the need for support for those with disabilities and ongoing health conditions, which has in turn increased demand for our services.