'I don't know what I'd have done without my money advisor'
“PAM has helped me 100 per cent and I mean that. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her.”
Those are the words of Lesley Machray, a Longhurst Group customer from Selly Oak in Birmingham, whose life has been transformed by money advisor Paramijt Malhi.
Lesley, who has a chronic lung disease, was in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but was invited by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to apply for Personal Independence Payments (PIP); the benefit that is gradually replacing DLA.
The PIP assessment ruled that Lesley, who lives in a Friendship Care and Housing (FCH) property, would be entitled to less support than she’d received under the DLA and that she would also lose the mobility car her and husband Giles relied on to maintain their independence.
Terrified by the prospect of having to go to court to appeal the PIP decision, Lesley turned to Paramijt, known as Pam, who she’d known since 2013, for help.
Pam works with FCH customers to ensure they get the benefits they’re entitled to as well as giving them back control of their finances by helping with budgeting, managing debt and advising on additional support.
Lesley, who worked as a manager at a local snooker club for 13 years before being forced to retire through ill-health, said: “When PIP came in, I was reassessed, regardless of the fact that my DLA award had been indefinite.
“I was on the highest rate and that went straight down to the lowest rate I could possible receive. I was on £268 a month less than what I had been on. I just couldn’t get the help I needed.
“They took my money away within a month. I didn’t know what to do. I was up the creek without a paddle. They didn’t care. They’re very quick to take money from you.
“I was quite stressed by it all. The thought of going to the tribunal hearing to appeal the PIP assessment absolutely terrified me.
“There are people that really need this financial support and to go through all of this stress and worry is absolutely the last thing that they need. I’ve been lucky to have had the support of Pam and Giles but a lot of people have to face it alone.”
Together, Pam, Lesley and Giles, for whom they were able to claim carer’s allowance, sifted through the complicated forms including 106 pages of appeals paper work.
Pam put together an appeal submission on Lesley’s behalf, supported by medical evidence from doctors, to submit to the tribunal panel.
The tribunal was finally held in May of this year, nearly seven months after the appeal was lodged.
“It was a waiting game; months of uncertainty for us, living on less money,” added Lesley, “You just don’t know where you stand after you send off the appeal.
“I absolutely needed Pam’s help and support throughout the process, it was so complicated, but she stood by me from start to finish.
“I attended the tribunal hearing Pam and Giles supported me with giving evidence to the panel.
“After the hearing, we were asked to wait in the waiting area while the panel made their decision. I didn’t actually go back into the room to hear their decision because I was so distressed by it all, but Pam and Giles went in on my behalf.
“I remember when they came out, Pam had a great big smile on her face, it was such a relief.”
Thanks to Pam’s work, Lesley was awarded a total back-payment of £1,755 and ongoing weekly payments of £141.10, with no need for further assessment until 2026.
After being awarded the Enhanced Mobility Rate component of PIP, Lesley and Giles were also able to get back on the road with a new car under the Motability scheme.
But Pam’s support didn’t end there; she also referred Lesley to Birmingham's Local Welfare Provision (LWP) scheme, which provided her with a cooker and sofa.
Lesley added: “Pam has helped me 100 per cent and I mean that. I don’t know what I would’ve done without her.
“She helped me through everything and just having her support meant the world to me. I was very grateful that she was there for me.
“I would 100 per cent recommend her to anybody. If you need help, just go and see Pam, it’s as simple as that.”
If you need Pam’s help, simply call 0300 123 1745 and ask for Pam Malhi or visit fch.org.uk for more information.