By Rob McDowall
A raft of changes introduced by the Conservative Lib-Dem Coalition has once again made ‘welfare’ and ‘benefits’ bad words in the UK.
Benefits and welfare are now commonly referred to as “hand-outs” and the Ministers appear to be doing everything they can to ‘slap down’ those on benefits and starve them into submission.
Foodbank use is increasing month on month as are benefit sanctions, benefit appeals subsequently won at Tribunals and the Government’s attempts to isolate, victimise and stigmatise those claiming the benefits they are entitled to.
The deep and relentless cuts in welfare have led to the formation of a number of campaign groups, anti-poverty lobbying organisations and support collectives which now play an integral part of the citizen empowerment and ‘fight back’ movements across the UK. Without the support of these organisations many of our most vulnerable would be destitute and existing from one crisis to another and it is the readiness and willingness for people to come together to support each other in these dire times which speaks volumes.
Having witnessed the significant negative impact that ‘welfare reform’ was having on families, on fellow disabled people and ultimately the wider society; myself and a friend and associate came together with a view to setting up a not-for-profit organisation which would provide advice, assistance and support to those living in Scotland who are affected by hardship ‘in all its forms’. Bringing together over 25 years of volunteering and advocacy, the Scottish Welfare Support and Advice Network (SWSAN) was born.
SWSAN offers a range of services including assistance with benefit applications and appeals, Tribunal preparation, assistance with accessing statutory services, referral to foodbanks throughout Scotland, referral to and oversight of grants from charitable trusts and organisations, housing applications and much more.
We will always try to assist with issues our clients are experiencing and in the event we cannot assist, we will refer clients (with their permission) to a more suitable organisation who can provide the support they need.
We understand life is complicated and people don’t fit neatly into boxes: we are not here to judge people nor are we here to give clients a lecture … we are here to help and our clients are well and truly at the centre of the services we provide.
We have a secure website and secure email system which allows us to conduct most of our business online.
Clients don’t need to make an appointment and come to an office to see us. We ask clients to self-register at www.swsan.eu.org/register providing as much information as possible. We will then contact the client to ask any further questions, discuss their case and see how we can help them.
For more information about emergency food referrals through SWSAN clients should visit www.swsan.eu.org/foodbanks