We were saddened this week to hear about the case of Errol Graham who starved to death in June 2018 after his benefits were stopped.
Assistant coroner Dr Elizabeth Didcock who heard the inquest into Errol’s death wrote in her verdict that the “safety net that should surround vulnerable people like Errol in our society had holes within it” — an inconvenient truth that, after 15 years of working with some of the most vulnerable and marginalized, we at Street Talk are all too familiar with.
Street Talk would urge the Department for Work and Pensions to learn from Errol’s case and improve our benefits system to work for the most vulnerable, and not against them as appears to have been the case here.
Street Talk has worked with numerous people who have missed out on their entitlement because they were too unwell to navigate a system that treats them with suspicion and hostility.
In one instance a woman’s benefits were sanctioned due to administrative error causing her to become homeless. Now living on the street, she was attacked and suffered a brain injury which lead to a permanent cognitive impairment. Even with our support it took 19 months to get her benefits reinstated and in the meantime her life had been tipped into a negative spiral as often happens when the most vulnerable are sanctioned.