Jinal Shah, Amy Roper and Rebecca Grevitt recently achieved the first win for one of our London office’s new pro bono projects involving a partnership with Mencap, a leading learning disability charity, to work on benefits appeals for clients with learning disabilities. Fourteen lawyers from across all levels and practice groups in the office have been trained in this new area of law to take on cases.
Jinal, Amy and Rebecca represented a young man living with his parents who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder/Asperger’s Syndrome, Language Receptive Disorder, ADHD/ADD, Dyslexia and a sleep disorder. His mother, who was his appointee, had gotten in touch with Mencap asking for support with an appeal when his last application for his PIP (Personal Independence Payment) benefit was rejected.
Under the supervision of the experts at Mencap, Jinal, Amy and Rebecca drafted the appeal submission and obtained additional evidence. The first hearing was adjourned, as the young man could not attend due to his sleep disorder. The Tribunal then issued Directions asking for further information in relation to the sleep disorder and information about the son’s job, which the team worked with his mother to provide.
Rebecca and Amy attended the tribunal hearing with the young man and his mother, both supporting their clients in their statements to the Tribunal, and providing a closing statement. The Tribunal decided to grant the appeal and awarded the young man the benefits he is entitled to for the next five years (the longest time period that can be awarded).
The young man’s mother wrote a message to our team:
“A massive thank you for all the hard work each of you have put in to helping [X] get the benefit he is entitled to. Rebecca and Amy did a fabulous job at the Tribunal Hearing today, not only within the hearing itself but the additional support they gave both before and afterwards. I particularly appreciated the support given to me on a day when I was in quite a lot of pain. The stress I have been under with benefits claims has been extreme and without Mencap I may well have given up the fight. I cannot thank you all enough.”
This success demonstrates the ability of our lawyers to go outside their comfort zone and learn a new area of law in order to help out in an area of great need, and stand up for those who most need it in our community. “It was daunting, at first, to learn a new area of law, but this was a challenging and rewarding experience for the whole team, which was assembled from different areas of the firm and which worked together seamlessly” said Jinal. “We are grateful for the opportunity to make a real difference to a family in our local community that has faced many hurdles in receiving what is owed to them.”