The students were given some real insights into the work done by the Law Student Representation Project, which is a joint venture between Wolverhampton Council & the university. Law students assist people who have lost their benefits or have been deemed ineligible for benefits under the new (2008) criteria, and represent them at their appeal hearings in court.
Our host, Natalia Hill, gave the students some real-life examples of individuals helped by the project, and discussed some of the different kinds of benefit which vulnerable people struggle to claim, such as ESA (Employment Support Allowance). Natalia explained how ESA does not carry the same conditions as JSA and is more appropriate therefore for people with multiple and/or complex, long-term health conditions and other barriers to work.
Natalia then gave students a “health questionnaire” which is required from individuals seeking to claim ESA. She asked the students to come up with a fictional character who would definitely be entitled to this benefit. The students created “Bob”, an amputee with mental health issues, with a low level of education, and living alone with no support network – and were shocked to see that, according to the health questionnaire, Bob would be deemed “eligible for work”. Natalia explained that, in a case such as this, a Law student representative would be able to assist with a written submission and by advocating for Bob in court, and would aim to demonstrate that Bob does meet the criteria for ESA.
I think the students had an eye-opening experience, and I hope it has confirmed their interest in Law at university.
Mrs Zoe Torsney Course Liaison Coordinator