We helped our client, Michael O’Donnell, challenge the rules on Bereavement Support Payment (BSP).
Michael’s wife, Pauline, died from a progressive degenerative condition, which caused severe disability during her adult life.
After Pauline’s death, Michael made an application for BSP. BSP provides financial help for a surviving spouse or civil partner to help them deal with the immediate financial impact of losing a partner.
Michael’s application for BSP was rejected by the Department for Communities because Pauline had not paid national insurance contributions during her working life.
Law Centre NI assisted Michael to challenge the Department’s decision, helping him to secure the financial help he and his young family needed. Many other families in Michael’s situation will now benefit as a direct result of the decision in his case.
A mother of three young children, Lorraine Cox, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in September 2018. While Lorraine’s diagnosis was terminal, her doctors were unable to say how long she would live.
When Lorraine applied for benefits, she encountered a system designed to give extra help only to people with six months or less to live.
At this challenging time in her life, Lorraine bravely spoke out about the obstacles she faced and campaigned for a change to rules on access to benefits for terminally ill people.
Law Centre NI helped Lorraine to challenge those rules. Her legal challenge was a vital contributor to changing the law, which extended the scope of terminal illness rules to include people with six to 12 months to live.
This change made a crucial difference to terminally ill people across the United Kingdom. Lorraine sadly passed away in July 2022. We are grateful for her courage and lasting legacy.
Our client ‘Celeste’ is an EEA national who moved to Northern Ireland several years ago with her, now estranged, partner. Both her children were born in Northern Ireland and she was granted pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
As a mother of two pre-school age children, Celeste found herself in a difficult situation. She desperately wanted to work, however, she was not entitled to Universal Credit, which would allow her to fund the childcare that would enable her to work.
Her inability to secure vital state support at this critical time meant she was trapped in destitution.
Law Centre NI challenged the lawfulness of the rules which preclude EEA citizens with pre-settled status, like Celeste, from accessing Universal Credit.
Celeste’s case is ongoing, but has shone a spotlight on the plight of EEA citizens with pre-settled status in the UK.
Paul was made redundant following the Covid-19 pandemic.
He was aware that some of his colleagues were retaining their jobs and he asked his employer if he could be furloughed rather than made redundant.
Paul’s employer refused and paid him two weeks’ notice and three weeks’ redundancy pay.
When Paul came to us, we advised him on his employment rights, including how to claim unfair dismissal.
Paul eventually settled his case for £5,000, after his employer admitted that he had been unfairly dismissed.
The financial settlement Paul received was very welcome given that he was trying to support two young children during the pandemic.
It is only now that I feel I can begin to lift my head from the stress and anxiety. Whenever I expressed my work situation to others, I felt that it fell on deaf ears until I came across you...You were able to listen to my situation, give me specific and relevant advice and helped me to see my case through in an unbiased manner."
A client who sought employment advice
We have nothing but praise for our Law Centre NI caseworker. We were inspired by her knowledge, honesty and work ethic. She was logical and so very professional in her approach and was thoroughly dependable. Thank you isn't enough. One thousand 'thank yous' wouldn't be enough."
A client who got help in her PIP appeal
The Law Centre was a great help to me. No matter when I phoned or what the query was they were very patient and willing to help."
A client who received help with a PIP tribunal
We cannot thank the Law Centre enough for all your help. It has been a very difficult time for us. But you were so passionate and caring and knowledgeable. You guided us through the process step by step."
A Law Centre NI client