Dosh has been putting together our Business Plan for the next year: April 2018 to March 2019.
In our plan, we have written 6 commitments:
|1. We will show that people with a learning disability can lead our company|
|2. We will make sure our systems and processes are ready to support more than 1000 people|
|3. We will have a louder voice as financial advocates to make a difference for people through innovative research and ambitious projects|
|4. We will develop new ways to support people with a learning disability aged 16-25 transitioning from child to adult services|
|5. We will write a plan for Dosh from the point of view of people we support, building on the Dosh Promise to make sure we keep getting better at giving people the support they want|
|6. We will keep growing steadily and make sure Dosh has long-term financial stability|
We’re really excited about these commitments and our business plan and want to share them with you. We created a video that tells you all about them.
Meike Beckford February 16th, 2018
Dosh is 10 years old today! The idea was born in 2007 that there was a different, better way to support people with their money. This focused on financial advocacy and putting people in control of their money and how this affects their lives. From this idea came Dosh. Since starting to support our first handful of people on 29th November 2007 we have grown to nearly 800 people today! We will be celebrating our 10th anniversary today and over the coming year – look out for a special anniversary newsletter in the new year, stories from people who joined Dosh in the early days and more celebrations. To start us off, our Managing Director for 8 of those 10 years has written about his passion for Dosh, some of his highlights and why he loves the work he does.
By Steve Raw, Managing Director for Dosh
LOVE THE JOB YOU ARE IN – OR WHY I LOVE WORKING FOR DOSH
Celebrating 10 years of financial advocacy for people with a learning disability
One of my mentors is my wife Joyce, we call her the Oracle. Why? Because she is always right. An example of one of her gems was back in 1996 when she said to me: “Steve, you spend a long time at work so it is important you do something you love and enjoy” – that really focused me on deciding what I was going to do as I was being demobbed from the Army (my first career).
Fast forward to this week, on the train coming home from the Dosh Strategy Day in London, I had the best day, working with some incredibly talented, knowledgeable and experienced people on how we could support people with learning disabilities in the next 10 years, and I was buzzing. I looked at my fellow commuters, I may be being unfair but they looked weary. I detected the same weariness in the conversations they were having on their mobiles too. For me though, this is a second career which has lasted 21 years so far and one that I am still incredibly passionate about.
For the last eight years I have had the good fortune of being the Managing Director for Dosh. I told Learning Disability Today magazine in their ‘Me and My job” series the following:
What would be your dream job? “I am already doing it – I love what I do everyday”
What is your ambition? “I reached my professional ambition when I became MD for Dosh”
So why do I love my job? I enjoy being able to be involved in all aspects of our company and our support which includes:
Doing stuff that you have a passion for helps you to maintain and have stronger mental health. In your quieter moments, acknowledging that you are doing something that you are passionate about can give you a sense of well-being and contentment.
With passion comes a high level of enthusiasm for what you do. I have found this to be contagious not only do your friends benefit, but also your family.
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
Here my top 5 tips for finding your passion:
As a young 15 year old heading towards the Army Recruiting Office in Middlesbrough while my school mates headed in a different direction towards their interviews for ICI Apprenticeships as Welders and Platers, I thought that if I didn’t love what I was going to do I wouldn’t be able to do it with much conviction or passion. I felt the same way when I entered into the world of supporting people with learning disabilities.
There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
See more about what Dosh has achieved and how we support people with:
Meike Beckford November 29th, 2017
By Meike Beckford, Financial Advocacy Manager for Dosh
Between March and June 2016 we held an annual review. We asked the people we support and their families, support teams and care managers how we were doing. You can download the Dosh annual review 2016 results and read more about it here.
We were really pleased with the results overall. Almost everyone (97%) said they are happy with Dosh’s support. This includes people supported and circles of support.
“Since Jane has been [my brother] John’s* financial advocate there has been a huge weight off my mind. Jane is very supportive and explains things in a clear & concise way and supports staff to manage John’s money. Could not do without her!”
People said that we are meeting the Dosh Promise standards well, in particular keeping people’s money safe; people using their money to do the things they want and spending their money in the way they want.
People also said that we were good at being supportive, involving the people we support, getting to know them and being person-centred. This is a key part of what we do as financial advocates – we don’t just make sure the numbers add up (although we do do that!), we get to know the people behind the numbers and the lives they lead. This is why we co-created the Dosh Promise with the people we support. We support people to manage their money so that they can do what they want to do, achieve their goals and live happy lives.
From a social worker: “I believe that the support provided by Dosh reduces the risks of my client being financially exploited and also ensures that they are in receipt of their full benefit entitlement, whilst ensuring their savings are not detrimental to their benefits entitlement.”
There are of course also things we need to get better at and we’re always keen to improve the way we support people so this feedback is really important. Some people mentioned how quickly we process payments. In response to this, we have already got more people working on payments in our Dosh finance team and we have improved our standard payment times too.
We will also keep working with the people we support and their support teams to explain how we record decisions and make payments for bigger things. We use a best interest decision (BID) process with most people, if they can’t make the decision themselves. This protects the people we support and the people around them, but it can be a tricky process to get the hang of at the beginning. We are delivering more training sessions and workshops now to help people understand the BID process and help them get their BIDs cleared first time! If you’d like some training for your team, or want to know more about BIDs, please contact us.
Another team manager told us: “I am extremely happy with the service Laura* receives. Steph goes above and beyond, … [and] always ensures that she seeks Laura’s views and that Laura understands. She is person centred in her approach and Laura feels very comfortable with her.”
So, what’s next? We’re planning for our 2017 annual review now and thinking about how we can make our surveys and review process even more accessible. We want to hear from even more people and give them a chance to tell us what they think. We are also always thinking about how we can improve our support even more by improving our tools – for example our new financial profile that helps us get to know the people we support from the first visit.
If you would like to get involved in this or discuss your support from Dosh, please get in touch!
You can also download the results of the annual review 2016 here: Dosh annual review 2016 results
* Names of people we support have been changed.
Meike Beckford January 25th, 2017
Posted In: News and Blogs
By Maddy Hubbard, Financial Advocate for Greater Manchester and the North West
I, Daniel Blake follows the story of a joiner from Newcastle who has to stop work due to a heart attack and encounters the benefit system for the first time.
The film follows Daniel through his “claimant journey” (to use DWP language) of applying for ESA, being told he is fit for work, and having to claim Jobseekers Allowance. In turns confused and frustrated by the system, Daniel is stuck between having to search for work to get his benefits whilst being told by his doctor he shouldn’t be working for the sake of his health.
The director, Ken Loach, is known for tackling contemporary social issues in a powerful, realist way, such as his 1966 film Cathy Come Home about homelessness. When it was released, it made many people change their mind about homelessness and led to the start of the charity Crisis.
I, Daniel Blake is another powerful film about our society, but this time Loach has focused on welfare and the benefits system. It has divided opinions, as some reviewers felt the film was unrealistic and made to make a political point, whilst others have argued that the film reflects many people’s experiences and that the government should change its policies.
Accepting an award for the film, Ken Loach said “film can bring us the world of the imagination. But it can also bring us the world that we live in. We must give a message of hope. We must say that another world is possible, and necessary.”
As a financial advocate who supports people with their benefits every day, I found some of the most heart-warming moments of the film to be when people took the time to really listen to Daniel and try to help him. These people included his doctor, one of the DWP work coaches and the benefits advisor who helped Daniel prepare his ESA appeal.
It is important for everyone to remember that they don’t have to go through the benefits system on their own. There are organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau that can help, free of charge, and plenty of advice websites including Turn2Us, Benefits & Work, and EntitledTo.
If, like Daniel, you are found fit for work and need to make an application for Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit, you should also bear in mind that like every other organisation the DWP is required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’. This could mean changes to how many hours you need to spend searching for jobs or other parts of your claimant commitment (the things you need to do to keeping getting your benefits).
Reasonable adjustments are a legal requirement to help people with a disability overcome the difficulties that are not faced by people who are not disabled. Reasonable adjustments can also be requested by other people, for example single parents who can’t look for work 8 hours per day as they need to pick their children up from school.
It is important to be honest and make sure that the Jobcentre knows about anything that will affect your ability to look for work. If you agree to a claimant commitment that you can’t meet then you will be sanctioned and your payments will be stopped.
This is where it can be really helpful to have an advocate in your corner. Someone who knows the system and can help you understand your rights and communicate your needs.
Many people would find it reassuring to have someone support them through their benefit claim, but for lots of people with a learning disability it is additionally important as many don’t have the capacity to understand what is needed to manage their benefits. This is where Dosh tries to help.
Dosh financial advocates support people using our considerable experience of disability benefits. We understand how benefits are changing and what the forms are really asking. We help people to complete benefit applications and ensure they are getting all the benefits they are entitled to, as well as challenging wrong decisions.
We can’t help everyone, but our mission is for people with a learning disability to have independence and control over their money. Getting the right benefits is a key part of enabling people with a learning disability to have a good life.
To reach out to more people, we share our experience and knowledge in other ways too. For example, we work with different groups and individuals to do research and create resources that can help people understand the benefits system. Our factsheets for family carers help families support their relative with their money and benefits.
We would love to work with more self-advocacy and family carer groups in the future, to provide talks about how benefits are changing or workshops to help people build their skills.
Meike Beckford November 7th, 2016
Supporting someone to get the Right to Reside
By Maddy Hubbard, Financial Advocate for Greater Manchester and the North West
James* is a young man with a learning disability that Dosh supports in the South of England. Most of the people Dosh supports have lived in the UK for a long time and are allowed to claim benefits, but James is Spanish and came to live in England four years ago. James had been to school in England, his father was British and his whole life was now based here. Despite this, when we applied for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) we were told that he didn’t have ‘Right to Reside’ and so wasn’t entitled to the benefit.
‘Right to Reside’ is a legal term about whether someone has the right to be in England and claim income-related benefits. It is decided based on if someone has worked in the UK and got ‘Retained Worker Status’. As James is not able to work due to his learning disability, Dosh were told that he was therefore not entitled to the benefit. Without ESA, James had to live on just Housing Benefit and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which was making life very hard for him. James couldn’t afford to live a good life and was getting into debt.
Dosh worked with James’s social worker and his support team to challenge this decision. James’s Financial Advocate sent the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) lots of evidence about James’s learning disability. We explained that he wasn’t able to work, which was why we were applying for ESA, but proved that his father was British and that the UK was his home. The DWP responded saying that before they could look at information about his disability, James needed to pass the Right to Reside test so they couldn’t award him ESA.
James’s Financial Advocate then got in touch with their local Legal Centre and was given free advice by an Immigration Lawyer. The Lawyer explained how Dosh could appeal the decision and the evidence they would need to provide to the courts. This was the first time Dosh had dealt with immigration law and it is very complicated. To put it simply, if James couldn’t get Retained Worker Status himself then we needed to prove that one of his parents was a European worker in the UK and had therefore passed it on to him. It wasn’t enough that his father was British, we had to show that he had lived and worked in Europe before coming back to the UK to work.
Dosh worked closely with James’s father to get the evidence together and make a case to the Department for Work and Pensions. We sent in the appeal and were expecting to have to go to a tribunal, but after only a week we got a letter from the DWP.
Eventually, almost a year after first applying, the DWP agreed that James should get ESA!
The decision means that James will get almost £10,000 as a backpayment of the benefit that he should have had this year and he will now have enough money to live on. His father said
“I can’t thank you enough for all the work and stress you have been through to achieve this. Apart from the fact cited in the letter, it was undoubtedly your incredible perseverance over the last year or so that has impressed the authorities.”
At Dosh, we will always go the extra mile for the people we support, even if it means teaching ourselves immigration law! If you would like support about this or anything else related to your money or benefits then please get in touch to find out how we can support you.
Meike Beckford November 3rd, 2016
Posted In: News and Blogs