Martisha is in her late 50s and has a physical disability. Martisha called our Help Hub and asked for an advocate to support her at a forthcoming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment. Martisha did not want to go to the assessment on her own because she had previously had negative experiences with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and she wanted somebody independent present to ensure that she was listened to and treated fairly. The Help Hub confirmed that this service was available in her area, took down her details, and arranged for an advocate to contact her.

Dawn, a POhWER community advocate spoke to Martisha over the phone and listened to her concerns. Martisha told Dawn that she was familiar with the questions likely to be asked and was worried that, without an advocate present, the assessor may twist her words and write untrue things that she had not said. Dawn agreed to attend the assessment and support Martisha to express herself clearly.

Dawn explained that the assessor would be looking to see if Martisha could function regardless of illness and disability, and it was therefore important for her to explain how her disability impacted on her daily life.

The PIP assessment was held via a 3-way call between Dawn, Martisha and the PIP assessor. During the assessment Dawn gently prompted Martisha, when necessary, to answer the questions in relation to how her disability affected her daily life.

At times the assessor did not give Martisha time to answer so Dawn intervened and politely asked the assessor to allow Martisha time to finish her answer. At other times the assessor appeared to twist what Martisha was saying, when this happened Dawn corrected the assessor - for example, when the assessor stated that Martisha had said she did their own shopping but Martisha had said her carer did it for her as she is unable to carry shopping herself.

Martisha was granted PIP and was very grateful for Dawn’s support as it gave her confidence to speak up without being intimidated.