Disability Equality North West (DENW) referred Tom to ICANN for advocacy support for an appeal tribunal.
Tom was experiencing mental health difficulties. On first meeting, Tom could appear to be very able. However, Tom lacked insight as to how his medical condition affected his ability to manage his day-to-day life independently.
Why advocacy support?
DENW had concerns about Tom’s ability to represent himself in a formal court setting for a benefits appeal tribunal. The ICANN team were concerned that without advocacy support, the tribunal panel may not have a true understanding of the daily difficulties Tom faced.
Tom would describe himself as being able to fully function independently. However, when the experienced advocate spent time talking with him, it became clear that the reality was very different. It was evident that Tom, although feeling he was managing his personal needs, was having difficulty taking care of himself on a daily basis.
How did we help
Initially, Tom was disorientated and anxious about the appeal tribunal process. The ICANN advocate was able to reassure Tom and explained the procedures in a way which made it easier for him to understand.
“I can plan a walk that I want to go on. I have been rescued several times because I got lost.” – Tom
During the appeal tribunal, Tom was asked about his hobbies and interests. He responded by saying that he frequently enjoyed going on long walks to the Lake District. This could have indicated that Tom was capable of planning and following journeys and having the mental capacity to do this.
With advocacy support, Tom explained to the panel that he did go walking. He explained that he went during times that many people would have considered to be high risk e.g., in the early hours of the morning when it was still dark or in poor weather and he did not wear the appropriate clothing for walking. Tom got lost whilst walking and on numerous occasions required the local search team to come out and look for him and escort him back to safety.
Effective advocacy helps to build trusting and open relationships, empowering individuals to be able to communicate in an open and transparent way and enabling them to get the help and support they need.
” I ensured that the Tribunal panel did not take what Tom said at face value due to his lack of insight regarding what his capabilities. I was able to support Tom to explain to the panel a realistic account of his capabilities. This came about because Tom and I had built a trusting and open relationship. Tom felt comfortable enough to explain the realities of what he was able to do.” – Aneesah, Senior Advocate