Hurrah! We did it! THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to our appeal to raise funds to train 16 volunteers to support people who experience mental distress, before and up to ESA/ PIP tribunals.

We have reached our target of £2250 so we can pay for the trainer, Tom Messere, to travel to London to do the training, provide lunch, and contribute to participants’ travel expenses.

We are also planning a follow on training on appeals/tribunals after June with another trainer Paul Treloar who has kindly offered us a days training.

And at least one participant has committed to train others where they live so the training can be spread far and wide.

The appeal is open until Friday 29 April so you still have time to contribute so we can fund the follow on training.


The DWP have £22 million to represent themselves in Personal Independent Payments (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) tribunals (Benefits and Work). Since 2013, people challenging benefit decisions are no longer allowed to get legal aid. This saved the Ministry of Justice – wait for it – £22 million. (CPAG)

In the meantime, disabled people have been struggling to claim the benefits they are entitled to and many have to appeal the DWP decisions – over half the ESA appeals succeed.  However, there isn’t enough support for people throughout the process of claiming because Citizens Advice Bureaux and other advice services are overwhelmed by the demand.

People with mental health problems are at a particular disadvantage when claiming PIP and ESA. The criteria are framed in terms of physical impairment and the impact of assessments are having a negative impact on our mental health – an article in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in November 2015 links WCA tests for ESA with possible additional 590 suicides, increased mental health problems and hundreds of thousands of antidepressant prescriptions.

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A critical theorist and activist collective.