Our Information & Advice service is currently closed to new referrals until further notice.
The situation will be reviewed on a monthly basis, starting from October 2023. The reason for the temporary closure is capacity issues.
Please see our useful information page here for details of other organisations that may be able to help.
We provide a free, AQS accredited, information and advice casework service to Deaf and Disabled people living in Merton.
We support in the following areas:
- Welfare Benefits
- Social Care
- Concessionary Travel
- Grant applications
- Housing - we are closed to housing cases - with the exception of aids and adaptations (including Disabled Facilities Grant applications) - until further notice. The situation will be reviewed in Oct 2023.
Please look at each section below to learn more about what we do and what we don’t do.
How we can help
We work to an Independence Charter. This means that we may support you to do something rather than us doing it for you.
As we work with Deaf and Disabled people only, much of our work is on the following benefits:
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
- Universal Credit (UC).
We can help with filling in application forms, preparing for and attending medical assessments, reviews, appeals and tribunals.
We can also provide benefits checks to ensure that you are recieving all that you are entitled to.
Other benefits we may be able to help with:
- Attendance Allowance.
- Bereavement Benefits.
- Carer’s Allowance, but only if you are a deaf or disabled person and a carer.
- Council Tax Reduction.
- Housing Benefit.
- Overpayments, but only if you do not have any consumer credit debts.
- Pension Credit.
- Short-term assistance, such as accessing Merton’s Local Welfare Support Scheme and Budgeting Loans / Budgeting Advances.
We may be able to help with other benefit enquiries as well. If we can’t help, we will give you the details of people who can, as long as such help exists in Merton.
We can support you to do the following:
- Request a social care assessment. If you would like to do this yourself please see: https://www.merton.gov.uk/social-care/adult-social-care/social-services-for-older-people/needs-assessments-and-contact-details.
- Prepare for a social care assessment. We can also attend the social care assessment with you.
- Complete a Financial Assessment.
- Gather evidence for Disability Related Expenses.
- Challenge charges.
We may also be able to help with the following:
- Advice on entitlement to Direct Payments.
- Community care complaints.
- Hospital discharge planning.
- Residential and nursing care: assessments and charging.
- Services provided under section 117 Mental Health Act 1983.
We can help you complete forms for the following:
- Freedom Pass.
- Blue Badge.
If you automatically qualify for any of the above, we may encourage and support you to complete the form yourself rather than us completing the form for you.
We can help with grant applications, for example to Wimbledon Guild for help with things like food, warm clothing, utility bills, essential furniture and household appliances.
We will always check that you are eligible to apply for a grant before completing an application form.
We can support you if:
- You are having difficulties registering with a GP.
- You have been removed from a GP’s register.
- You have been refused health care.
- You would like information and advice on accessing statutory mental health care. In Merton, this is provided by South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust. See https://www.swlstg.nhs.uk/our-services/our-key-locations.
We do not provide support with NHS complaints. This service is provided by VoiceAbility. See https://www.voiceability.org/about-advocacy/types-of-advocacy/nhs-complaints-advocacy.
If your health question or concern relates to St Helier Hospital or Epsom Hospital, please contact the relevant Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS). See https://www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/pals
If your health question or concern relates to South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, please contact PALS. See https://www.swlstg.nhs.uk/patients-carers/feedback/pals-new
If you are currently detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 or have been discharged subject to a Community Treatment Order, please contact VoiceAbility. See https://www.voiceability.org/about-advocacy/types-of-advocacy/independent-mental-health-advocacy-imha
We are closed to housing cases - with the exception of aids and adaptations (including Disabled Facilities Grant applications) - until further notice. The situation will be reviewed in Oct 2023.
In the future, we may change the way we provide housing advice. For example, we have received multiple enquiries which relate to Merton’s Housing Register. Rather than see every enquirer individually, we may offer quarterly group sessions.
We provide information, advice and casework support with the following:
- Adaptations to make your home more accessible, including Disabled Facilities Grants. This includes housing association tenants, private tenants and homeowners.
- Getting onto Merton’s housing register.
- Housing Transfer.
- To help you think through your housing options. You may want information, advice and the opportunity to talk through the housing options available to you, for example, remaining in your own home, or moving into sheltered, residential or nursing care.
We may also be able to help with:
- Disrepair, if you do not quality for legal aid. If you qualify for legal aid, we will signpost you to another provider, such as South West London Law Centre.
- Rent arrears, but only if you do not have any consumer credit debts. If you have consumer credit debts, we will signpost you elsewhere.
What we don’t do
We do not provide generalist advocacy support, so are not able to help if you are having relationship difficulties with benefit, health, housing or social care services. If you are experiencing such difficulties, we will signpost you to a different service, if one exists.
- If you receive Direct Payments to pay for your social care, we are not able to help with any aspect of managing Direct Payments.
- For benefits cases, we do not help with applications to the Upper Tribunal.
- For Universal Credit, if you want help with the initial online application, we will signpost you to Citizens Advice.
- Neighbour disputes.
- NHS complaints.
- Any complaint, where the cause for complaint took place more than 6 months ago.
We do not operate a drop-in service and all face-to-face meetings are by appointment only.
We will carry out a risk assessment with you before we meet face-to-face, to keep you and us safe.
It is very likely that you will have to wait for your first appointment. Waiting times vary throughout the year but can be anywhere between 2-12 weeks. We always book appointments as soon as we can.
If you live outside of Merton we can usually put you in touch with another organisation that can help. You can also see our useful information page which lists other advice organisations - https://www.mertoncil.org.uk/useful-information/chapter-1-advice-advocacy-an/
How to book an appointment
If you would like support you can get in touch in the following ways:
- Give us a call - 0203 397 3119 - One of our welcoming members of staff will be covering reception. They will take your details and information about the issue that you need support with. You will get a call back informing if we are able to support and when you can expect an appointment.
- Email us - email@example.com - Send us an email including your name, contact details and information about the issue that you need support with. Please include any key dates. You will get an email back confirming receipt and you will hear back about an appointment or if we can support.
- Send us a Text or SMS - 0779 671 2502 - If you are Deaf or hard of hearing you can text us and we will get back to you.
Make a Referral to Merton CIL - For Organisations Only
From June 2023, our average waiting time for a first appointment is 8-10 weeks.
You can download our referral form here - Merton CIL Third Party Referral Form 2023
Please be aware and inform the person you are referring that where there are multiple issues, we may be able to work on one issue at a time only.
If you do not provide sufficient information in the referral form, we will contact you and ask you to seek further information from the person you would like to refer.
If we do not accept your referral, we will let you know as soon as possible and we will ask you to inform the person you were hoping to refer.
Please return via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via post to Vestry Hall, 336 London Road, Mitcham, CR4 3UD