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WELCOME to 5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net
5 Quid for Life is a small charitable trust which provides crisis financial support to people with mental health problems who have lost their benefits as a result of the UK government's welfare reforms.
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We’re Updating Our Data Protection Policy

We’re Updating Our Data Protection Policy

We’re updating our data protection policy in preparation for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”), which will go into effect on May 25th, 2018.

These changes involve:

  • Greater specificity in how we use the information we collect, and how long we keep it
  • Greater transparency around your data preferences and data rights
  • These changes will not affect the way you interact with 5 Quid for Life
  • You do not need to take any action

If you have previously consented to 5 Quid for Life collecting/storing/using your data, and you wish to revoke consent, you may do so at any time by contacting us via Facebook, or our website. Similarly, if you have any questions, please contact us via our website, or Facebook.

The full text outlining our data protection policy can be found here.

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New Year Update: Approaching the end of the line?

Happy New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR and, as always, a HUGE thank you to all our friends, followers and supporters. Last year was tough: we gave away more than £4,000 to people with mental health difficulties who had been left high and dry by the benefits system, and in the last half of the year especially we struggled to keep up with the demand. To those we kept waiting, I can only apologise.

The good news is that we’re now on top of the backlog: every outstanding enquiry has now received a reply. Here’s a snapshot summary of where we’re at:

We have already given away £400 this year. This leaves our bank balance at £801.95 and our PayPal balance at £118.74, a total of £920.69. Our current income is typically £165 p/m via standing order plus £20 p/m via PayPal donations.

• We are awaiting updates on two applicants from their caseworkers.
• We have two applications pending for which evidence has not yet been provided: if you apply for our help, please remember that we can only provide that help if you provide us with evidence of your circumstances. Please read this post for an explanation: Decisions, decisions: how we make them (and how you can make them easier for us)
• We have three requests pending for which evidence has been provided but our application form has not yet been completed: again, if you request our help, please remember that we can only provide that help if you complete our application form as well.
• We have received two requests for further help from previous applicants: our policy is to allow for a maximum of two grants in any 12 month period, and as our funds run low this is becoming heart-wrenchingly difficult—do we prioritise support for new applicants or for those we have already helped?

Setting aside £100 each for each of these applications leaves us with £20.69 available for any new requests, plus our income of £185 p/m.

So, dear people, we appear to be approaching the end of the line. None of what we’ve achieved would have been possible without our supporters’ generosity: if that’s you, once again, a huge thank you; but to continue, we need more regular support. It’s your call: please share as you see fit.

Thank you and best wishes for 2018 from me, Phil​, and all the 5 Quid for Life team.

This is a slightly extended version of a post from our facebook page: please join us there for more frequent updates.

Backlog of Enquiries…

Please note that due to the level of demand and limited availability of volunteers we currently have a considerable backlog of enquiries.

We are responding as best we can but at the moment it may take two or three weeks before you receive a reply: please be patient. We apologise for any inconvenience or difficulty this may cause.

For urgent assistance with mental health issues, please contact one of the major mental health charities such as Mind, Rethink or Sane.

Finance Update, with thanks to all our supporters

THREE WEEKS ON from last month’s announcement about our financial situation, I’m very pleased to report that thanks to the generosity of our supporters we have been able to continue issuing grants and we expect to able to keep that going for at least the next few weeks. In the longer term, however, we need more regular donations if we are to meet the ongoing demand. Here’s a summary of the current situation taken from February’s bank statement:

Opening balance 27/1/2017: £3,774.72
PayPal verification deposit: £0.01
Donations: £1,035.00
12 grants issued: (£2,285.00)
Transfer from Reserve a/c: £1,000.00
Closing balance 27/2/2017: £3,524.73

We have also issued 5 x £50 (total £250.00) grants via PayPal, where we hold a small separate fund for emergency payments. Cheques for a further 10 grants totaling £1,500.00 have yet to clear, leaving us with an interim bank balance of £2,024.73. That’s enough for another 5 full grants of £200 followed by 10 reduced grants of £100.

Whether you support us by one-off donations, PayPal recurring payments or by standing order, on behalf of those we help, we’d like to offer you a huge and heartfelt thank you. Every contribution counts as we pick up the pieces in the trail of destruction left by the DWP’s appalling disregard of the debilitating effects of mental ill-health.

Lest any should doubt the damage being done by the DWP to vulnerable people, I simply point you to a recent report from the Disability News Service: Maximus ‘admits’ using brutal and dangerous suicide questions. Be warned, it makes grim reading: if you are feeling vulnerable yourself, you would be well advised to steer clear.

Finally, for now: if you’re already supporting us, thank you once again; if you’re not and would like to do so, please see the sidebar or visit our Donations page for details of how to give.

Contact Us | Eligibility

What we do and why: a snapshot summary

We collect money and give it away. Why? Because vulnerable people are being driven to a cliff edge by benefit sanctions and flawed Work Capability Assessments.

We’re a mental health safety net, picking up the pieces in the trail of destruction left by the DWP.

Here’s the longer version: 5quidforlife.org.uk/about/

5 Quid for Life: A Snapshot Summary

5 Quid for Life: A Snapshot Summary

Cross-posted from our facebook page: please join us there for more updates

What happens if I apply for help when funds are low?

IF YOU APPLY FOR HELP when funds are low we will always do our best to help you from the funds we have available. If we reach the point where we have no funds left, we will add you to a waiting list then contact you when we do have funds available.

When we set up 5 Quid for Life we deliberately set aside £1,000 in a reserve fund. When we dip into that reserve fund we will automatically reduce our maximum grant from £200 to £100 to ensure that we can help as many people as possible.

We currently expect to start using our reserve fund within the next couple of weeks, if not sooner.

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How you can help

If you can, please give; if you can’t give, please share. Here’s a reminder of our backstory, as published in One in Four magazine back in 2011: please feel free to share it. Fivers may have changed since then but we still need them — and every one that you give to us, we give to someone else who needs it. Thank you.

Can you spare five quid? The story of 5 Quid for Life featured in 'One in Four' magazine (Spring 2011)

Can you spare five quid? The story of 5 Quid for Life featured in ‘One in Four’ magazine (Spring 2011)

IMPORTANT FINANCE UPDATE: Funds running critically low (and a reminder of why we’re here)

AS OF MID-FEBRUARY 2017 our funds are running critically low.

By the end of the month it is likely that we will have to reduce our maximum grants from £200 to £100, restricted to no more than two grants per month.

If you can help by making a one-off donation or by becoming a regular supporter, please do so. Please use either the donate button below or visit PayPal.me/5QuidForLife if you would like to donate via PayPal:

Donate with PayPal

Please use the following details if you would like to set up a standing order:

Account Name: 5 Quid for Life
Bank: HSBC Woodbridge
Sort Code: 40 47 42
Account No: 2146 8928

Our International Bank Account Number (IBAN) may be found on our Donate page.

Thank you.

What’s happened?

In January this year we registered 5 Quid for Life with Turn2us, a national charity that helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services. Since then we have been fielding 20 or more enquiries per week, of which around 1 in 4 are leading to grants being made.

In January we issued grants that totaled £1,600.00 (8 beneficiaries). This month we have issued grants totaling £1,535.00 (8 beneficiaries) and we have a number of applications for help in progress. We have been able to issue these grants thanks to reserves accumulated over several years, but those reserves are now rapidly diminishing.

Our regular income from a small group of dedicated supporters now stands at £120.00 per month: the current level of grants being awarded simply cannot be sustained unless we see a substantial increase in support.

If you can’t help directly yourself, please spread the word via social media or simply by telling a friend. The demand is relentless and the need is raw as vulnerable people find themselves stripped of support by the DWP’s harsh and heartless sanctions regime.

Thank you.

A Reminder of Why We’re Here…

We’re here to save lives, lives that have been put at risk by the DWP’s ongoing failure to acknowledge the debilitating effect of mental health difficulties. All around the UK, vulnerable people with serious mental health problems are struggling to make ends meet—to put food on the table, to afford heat and lighting, to pay their rent, to keep a roof over their heads—because the DWP is imposing benefits sanctions despite clear medical evidence that shows these people would not be capable of holding down a job.

This withdrawal of support by the DWP drives people into even deeper despair: rather than incentivising them to find work, it renders them even less capable of work. Yet the DWP keep on applying their punitive sanctions, preferring to believe their own Work Capability Assessments rather than the evidence provided by GPs and mental health caseworkers who know their patients.

Here at 5 Quid for Life we hold copies of this correspondence: on the one hand, GP’s letters explaining people’s mental health difficulties, and on the other, DWP communications telling these self-same people that they “do not have a Limited Capability for Work” and are therefore no longer entitled to benefits.

Once again, then: please help, in whatever way you can, by giving, by sharing, by writing to your MP or direct to the DWP—but please, whatever else you do, do not walk by on the other side.

Thank you.

Your Help Needed: Our busiest month ever proves I was wrong, @DWP are not listening…

MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS ARE DEBILITATING.

That’s a statement of the obvious if ever there was one, but it’s something that the DWP and their Work Capability Assessment (WCA) staff seem to be either unwilling or unable to grasp, so I’ll say it again, louder:

MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS ARE DEBILITATING

They undermine self-confidence and self-esteem, they knock the ability to process information, to relate to other people, they leave people disoriented, sap the will to live, make them want to curl up and die: to get to the point, dear DWP people, mental health problems affect the ability to work. Then when you at the DWP respond to a mentally ill person who hasn’t attended a WCA meeting—or has otherwise tripped up on your point-scoring system—by simply issuing a form letter telling them their benefits have been stopped, that knocks them even further into an even darker place.

@DWP tweeting about helping people

@DWP: “How can we work together to help more people with mental health issues into employment?”

You tweet about supporting people into work but what you do is withdraw support from people who are not fit for work: it is—and I say this with the utmost care—no exaggeration to say that you at the DWP have blood on your hands. You drive people to the edge and over the edge using cold, hunger and despair as weapons, then you wash your hands of them ready to process your next victim. You send letters from hell: “We support your application for heaven but we’ve removed the stairway and taken out the lift for good measure.”

Why, you may ask, such a drastic change of tone after my last post? Why this harsh assessment, these angry words? Simply this: the last fortnight has been our busiest ever period at 5 Quid for Life. We’re now dealing with around 20 enquiries per week, of which about 1 in 4 are leading to us issuing grants. It’s a development that’s taken us by surprise, but it’s one that’s long overdue.

If you follow us on facebook or twitter then you’ll know that we’ve been concerned for some time that we haven’t been reaching the people who need our help. Now, thanks to Turn2us, we are; and every enquiry we field is a tale of personal tragedy from someone who has been kicked when they’re down by the DWP. They’re people who have had the rug pulled from under their feet and been left floundering as their very means of survival have been taken away by sanctions or reassessments of their eligibility for benefits.

Consider Nicky, for instance. That’s not her real name, of course, and the story that we present here has been compiled using details from several different cases to ensure that no specific individual can be identified:

Nicky lives alone and struggles with depression and anxiety to the point where she can’t face going outside, where she can’t cope with meeting other people. She can’t concentrate, can’t think straight, loses track of the days. Her GP has given her a ‘Fit Note’ (there’s a misnomer if ever there was one!) to say she’s not fit for work due to her mental health problems. But the DWP called her in for a Work Capability Assessment regardless, and when she didn’t turn up for it, they stopped her benefits. Suddenly she’s left with no money to pay her rent, to buy food, to heat her flat. No discussion, just a form letter saying that because she didn’t attend her WCA, she’s no longer entitled to benefits—but she can appeal, which may take six weeks or longer to process…

Thankfully, Nicky discovered Turn2us, they referred her to us and we sent her £200 to help tide her over. But the harsh reality is that our £200 isn’t going to last long; and in the meantime, here at 5 Quid for Life we’re running out of money.

Here’s the current situation:

Current a/c balance at 27/01/2017: £3,774.72
Reserve a/c balance at 27/11/2016: £1,003.26
Total: £4,777.98
Income: £95.00 p/m from 15 regular supporters
Cheques issued in January, not yet cleared: £1,400 (7 beneficiaries)
Applications in progress: £1,200 (6 beneficiaries)
Balance remaining, inc. reserve: £2,177.98
Projection: at the current rate we will exhaust available funds, including reserves, within the next 2 to 3 weeks…

Dates are for the latest bank statements, current a/c issued monthly, reserve a/c issued quarterly. Zero interest on current a/c, £0.03 p/m on reserve a/c.

During the time it’s taken me to finalise this post, another four requests for help have come in. The demand is relentless and the need is raw as vulnerable people find themselves stripped of support.

If you’re already one of our supporters, thank you: without your support we wouldn’t be able to help any of these people. If you’re not a supporter, please consider joining us, either by donating through PayPal, through online banking (or a branch visit if you’d like to pay in cash or cheques) or by setting up a standing order direct to our bank account:

Donate with PayPal
Account Name: 5 Quid for Life
Bank: HSBC Woodbridge
Sort Code: 40 47 42
Account No: 2146 8928

I’d also like to say thank you to:

My friends and colleagues on the 5 Quid for Life Committee, who have rallied round to help meet the new level of demand. You all have busy lives but haven’t hesitated to take the time needed to review and respond to applications for help and to bounce ideas around as we try to forge our way ahead. People, you rock and I’m immensely proud of you all: it’s a privilege to work with you.

My friends and colleagues at DLT Books, for your support, encouragement and understanding when I’ve had to focus on 5 Quid for Life when I really ought to be working on DLT promotions and publicity. You are stars, each and every one of you: long may your light continue to shine.

Finally for now, some good news: as a special thank you to all our followers, friends and supporters, DLT Books are offering 50% off their entire Mental Health range. Please see this post for details: A Special Offer from @dlt_books for @5QuidForLife friends and supporters

A Special Offer from @dlt_books for @5QuidForLife friends and supporters

Pick Me Ups from DLT Books

Today I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of our friends and supporters: I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, without your support we wouldn’t be able to help the people we do, people who have been left high and dry by the DWP’s ideologically driven determination to force even the least capable into work.

The flood of enquiries since we registered with Turn2us has brought home to me more powerfully than ever the draconian and heavy handed way in which the DWP uses its Work Capability Assessments: it is a truly dehumanising and demoralising system which treats vulnerable people as nothing more than expendable pawns in an economic game.

But right now, I’d like to give something back to you, our friends and supporters: DLT Books (a small Christian publisher with whom I work part-time on a freelance basis) have kindly agreed that I can offer you their entire Mental Health range—including the rather superb ‘Pick Me Up‘ series, pictured—at half-price.

The offer’s available for the whole of this month, February 2017: just use the discount code 5Q50 for 50% off in the online shopping basket.

Thank you all and thank you DLT Books.

Could it be that somebody @DWP is listening at last?

@DWP tweeting about helping people

IT’S EASY TO BE CYNICAL. My first response when I saw this tweet from DWP was to scream outrage at their blatant hypocrisy. After all, we’ve just read Bessie’s story courtesy of Frances Ryan in the Guardian, and last week 5 Quid for Life issued another two cheques to people who have had their benefits axed by the DWP despite medical evidence declaring them unfit for work.

There’s no two ways about it: the way the DWP treats people with mental health difficulties is outrageous, pulling the rug from under their feet when they’re at their most vulnerable — this is not the way a civilised society should be treating its weakest members.

But then I thought again: is this tweet hypocrisy or is it a sign that somebody at the DWP is in fact listening? I know from my own experience of claiming benefits during a three month spell of unemployment earlier this year that not everyone who works for the DWP is a heartless bean-counting bureaucrat: some of them really do want to help. They too have families and—just as easily as anyone else—they too could find themselves on the other side of their desks, demoralised, out of work and claiming benefits.

It’s a nightmare situation that none of us want to face, and it’s an even worse nightmare when your mind is skewered by anxiety, depression, self-doubt or other mental health disorders. What you need in that situation isn’t threats and sanctions, driving you deeper into despair: you need encouragement and support with clear lines of communication, someone you can turn to for help.

So that’s my answer to the DWP’s question: if you’re serious about working together to help people with mental health issues into employment, drop the bullying tactics. Put down the stick, bring on the carrot. Make time to work with people, to understand their difficulties, and provide the support they need.

Believe people. Listen. If someone doesn’t turn up for an appointment or doesn’t attend an interview, find out why. Don’t just turn to your computer screen and hit that button which churns out those impersonal letters you’re so fond of to tell someone their benefits are being stopped. Stop. Think. Make it personal: put yourself in their shoes. Write, phone or email: do all three if you have to. No reply? Get out from behind your desk, put your coat on and go pay a home visit. Think. Think again. Take a bunch of flowers or a food parcel if that’s what’s needed: show them you’re a friend, out to support them, not an enemy out to bring them down.

Yes, you’ll need safeguarding procedures in place, but that’s all part of what supporting people is about; and that, dear DWP people, is your bottom line: support. Not the budget. Not the economy. Support.

And yes, I know this is a sea change I’m calling for. But it’s the change you need to make, to turn the tide. You say you want to help people into employment: then restore their dignity instead of sweeping it away. Show people respect to help them regain their self-respect. Show people they’re worth something to society and they’ll want to contribute to that society; show them they’re worthless and all they’ll want to do is hide or die. In  a simple sentence that I hope you’ll recognise, treat others the way you’d like them to treat you.

There are no guarantees, of course, and this isn’t the full story. Mental health difficulties can’t simply be overcome by positive thinking and cheering people on: the support needs to be ongoing and personal, in the workplace as well as on the way there. You’ll need to put comprehensive support structures in place for employers too. But make this your starting point and we’re in with a chance.

In the meantime, we’re still here at 5 Quid for Life to pick up the pieces when you get it wrong; but I’d much rather you made us unnecessary.


 

That’s my answer to the DWP’s question: what’s yours? Leave us a comment — and don’t forget to click through the link in their tweet to have your say in the consultation:

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