A SERVICE that helps give vulnerable people a voice says its services are in more demand following cuts and an overhaul of the benefits system.
Hartlepool Advocacy Service supports clients to access what they are entitled to and challenge decision makers in a host of areas.
Service bosses say the service is becoming even more important amid cuts to services and people’s benefits.
Recent success for the advocacy service, based at Havelock Day Centre, on Mainsforth Terrace, include helping a woman with employment rights after being diagnosed early with dementia and a benefits appeal following a serious fall.
Manager Margaret Leadbeater said: “We work with doctors, social workers, citizens’ advice and health professionals to make sure our clients rights and needs are understood and met.
“Advocacy really does work and can help improve lives and save costs to other services.”
Hartlepool Advocacy Service, run by the independent charity Developing Initiatives Supporting Communities, works with any adult with a disability, is in need of mental health support, the elderly, carers and families.
The service recently helped a client called Chris, who had suffered a hearing loss, to live a much more independent life.
They worked with her to develop a support plan and look at what benefits she was entitled to.
It has led to her being able to afford a lip speaker at meetings she attends and to help pay for her taxi fares.
Chris, who was referred to Hartlepool Advocacy from Hartlepool Artrium art studio, said: “It’s really enabled me to have a life ad I feel part of society for the first time in years.
“Without this support I would still be lost. I now have much more freedom and can live my life so much more independently.”
Artrium manager Colin Thompson said: “Before Chris was withdrawn and essentially unable to communicate which is no life.
“These relatively small changes have taken the pressure off Chris and really helped improve her mental health and confidence to live her life to the full.”
Margaret added: “It’s great to be part of a service that can make that happen for someone, her life has improved and her voice has been heard.”
Hartlepool Advocacy Service is available Monday to Friday between 8.45am-4.45pm.
Call (01429) 851361.