Pippa's Story

Pippa Maslin IllustrationTrainee Caseworker to Policy Manager at Merton CIL

Pippa joined Merton CIL's trainee caseworker programme as she wanted to help people who were at the sharp end of welfare reforms and cuts to public services. The programme provided her and others with internal and external training, and development opportunities, via a network managed by Inclusion London. In 2020, she was promoted to caseworker.

During this time, Pippa expanded her expertise in welfare benefits to include housing and social care. She also took advantage of the Week of Creativity offered by Merton CIL to its staff. This project offers staff one working week across a year to take part in work which falls outside the remit of their role, allowing for the exploration of issues in which they are interested or about which they are passionate, and for the opportunity to build their skills in certain areas. She spent her Week of Creativity becoming involved in our social policy and community engagement work. During this time, she was fundamental in developing relationships with the Council’s adult social care team and starting conversations around making housing application processes more accessible, as well as raising the profile of our organisation more generally. The Week of Creativity also helped her to focus on developing skills which would help her in a policy manager role.

In late 2023, Pippa was promoted to Policy and Campaigns Manager. She is motivated to bring about systemic change for Deaf and Disabled people due to her increased understanding of the structural inequalities that she gained through her casework.

Outcome: Pippa is now in a role which allows her to combine the skills she has developed at Merton CIL with those that she has built externally, to pursue work which she is passionate about and excited to grow within.

Sarah's Story

Sarah Jeffers Illustration Promoting Independence and Inclusion through our trainee caseworker programme

Sarah is a Disabled person who began engaging with Merton CIL when she was keen to speak up about the inequality faced by Disabled people. Sarah had  previously worked in organisations that provided services to Disabled people. Sarah wanted to donate some of her time to support Merton CILs work and began volunteering in a casework support role. Sarah supported service users to apply for and appeal concessionary travel applications. She also provided administrative support to the information & advice service.

 “When I started volunteering at Merton Centre for Independent living, I was lacking in confidence due to having taken a year's break from paid enjoyment. I found the team to be extremely friendly and encouraging and soon regained my confidence when I realised that everyone within the organisation valued my lived experience, knowledge of working with Disabled people and understanding of conditions.”

During the pandemic, we advertised a temporary admin role to volunteers and  Sarah joined the team. She was able to complete this role from home which she found accessible. At the end of her contract, Merton CIL had a trainee caseworker vacancy which Sarah was successful in securing.

This role has supported Sarah to maintain an up to date understanding work how work affects benefits and navigating the welfare system. Speaking up for others has also helped Sarah with developing her own independent living skills. The increased connection with other Disabled people, opportunity to actively learn and build skills, along with a feeling of purpose has helped Sarah to maintain good mental health and wellbeing.

Outcome: Sarah’s confidence has grown personally and professionally. She sees her career progressing at Merton CIL. Sarah knows her lived experience is valuable and feels comfortable feeding into decision making processes that will affect her life as well as other Disabled people.