Workshop looks at money matters

For many people living with HIV and Hepatitis C, financial hardship is a daily reality that impacts their physical and mental health.

Increasingly, we are working with service users to help them manage their money and to make sure that they are able to access financial support.

This week, we welcomed the team from GEMAP, a charity providing financial inclusion and money advice services to people in North East Glasgow, to talk to staff and service users.

The main focus of the workshop was on changes to benefits, and specifically the shift from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) which has affected many of our service users.

Both of these benefits are designed to support people living with a physical or mental disability, with DLA gradually being replaced by PIP. However, this isn’t an automatic process and people have to go through a detailed application process and face-to-face interview.

GEMAP highlighted some of the common hurdles that people face. The charity is hearing from a high number of people who are failing the points based face-to-face interview, only to have the decision overturned at a later date. Where appeals are required, they are often lengthy and some people face a break in their financial support.

These challenges were reflected in the experiences of some of the service users attending, who highlighted the impact of the appeals process on their mental health and their ability to manage their condition well. We are there to support people living with HIV or Hepatitis C through this process, from assistance with the initial application forms through to attending face-to-face interviews to provide support.

The session with GEMAP provided a useful insight into the specific challenges people face and how to approach them. We will now be looking at ways we can work together to ensure our service users are able to access the financial support they need.