A CHARITY worker who helps people claim benefits and other means of support they are entitled to has seen her work escalate in a decade.

Cathy Hipsey supports vulnerable people and those with multiple needs by helping them work out what they need to help them lead as much of an independent life as possible.

She is an outreach worker for Tavistock Area Support Services which means meeting and visiting people of all ages with mobility and other issues in their homes to work with them to assess what matters most to make the most of their lives.

Her work not only helps enhances people’s lives, but also, as a by-product, boosts the economy of West Devon by putting money in people’s pockets. From seeing one or two people a month, Cathy now sees 20 to 30 a month and more men than before.

Cathy joined TASS to help organise its befriending service which provides a regular home visitor to give isolated residents social contact. She then moved onto outreach work which initially concentrated on drop-ins and villages, but has widened to support people in the wider Tavistock area: She said: ‘I now work mostly one-to-one with people and visit them in their homes in response to referrals from other agencies or to individuals which come to us direct.

‘We might see someone for one specific reason, such as a carer asking for help with their mum needing a wheelchair, then discover they need other support they or their support network are unaware they are eligible for. I can assess their needs much better in the context of their own homes and lives.

‘It is a team effort with the other TASS staff and I can’t do my job without working closely with Tavistock Community Health and Social Care Teams.’

This includes community nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists from places like Tavistock Hospital,for instance. We also signpost people to support from a wide range of organisations.’

Advice is given on claiming personal independence payments, carers’ allowances, Blue Bades for mobility, Once a person has beendecalred eligible, other benefits can follow.

Cathy said demand has inclreased so rapidly because of a combination of factors, including the success of TASS of helping claimants get benfits they are due and from publicity. The current benefit seeing a higher rate of claims are pension credits. Half of the work involves health and social care. She is encouraging one of her clients who has range of health issues to socialise and leave his home for a lunch club, for example. TASS can be contacted on 01822 616958