London Floating Support Officer, Virgile Bassa, has won the highly contended 2016 WOW! Judge’s Choice Award at the annual WOW! Awards Gala Ceremony in London.
Virgile works for Family Mosaic’s Shoreditch Floating Support Service which provides one-to-one support in people’s own homes to assist with housing, health, money, work or training needs. Often customers can be in very difficult situations feeling like they have with no one to support them or nowhere to turn.
Virgile’s tenacity, diligence and resolve
Virgile had supported an older lady, ‘Y’ to resolve the termination of a benefit claim and serious rent arrears – threatening her with homelessness. Y had been recently divorced, suffering depression and heart disease as well as the loss of her brother. She said Virgile was a “special human being” who had turned her life around. Here is the full nomination:
I am nominating Virgile because of his smart way of working, his dedication to his work and customers and his courage to do the right thing for me.
I was in rent arrears and debts from friends and families and was being threatened with eviction by Hackney Homes as I was out of work because of sickness – I suffer from severe heart and knee problems; and had an operation on both.
I was declined ESA and the housing and council tax benefit was suspended. Because of this, I ended up with depression. Virgile provided me with exceptional support to reinstate my ESA by requesting for a review and appeal and I was backdated ESA for about £2,000. With Virgile’s support my housing and council tax benefits were also reinstated and also backdated by about £1,000. I was not made homeless with my health condition.
In October 2014, Virgile advised me to apply for PIP to improve my financial situation. He supported me during the first telephone interview and with my PIP application. In May, he accompanied me to the health care assessment centre in Chelmsford. My PIP was rejected because I was wrongly assessed by my health professional. Virgile then requested a mandatory reconsideration on my behalf for my PIP. This was again refused. Virgile spent time and effort to request my PIP case be referred to the tribunal court of appeal. He did not give up on my case.
In September, Virgile represented me during the first court of appeal hearing. He acted as a real family ambassador and challenged the judge who wanted to make a decision that day. Virgile believed that the medical information held by the court was not enough and requested for the hearing to be adjourned.
After two hours of discussion and Virgile standing his ground, the judge agreed for the tribunal to get all my health and disability information and also agreed to adjourn my case. Virgile then thoroughly prepared my appeal case. He responded to each point on the DWP refusal note and came to my house and took photos of all the OT adaptations and put them in my file as evidence.
In November, at my second PIP appeal hearing, Virgile represented me once again. The result was that the court panel granted me the PIP with a 10 year guarantee; and backdated my PIP application from October 2014. I was paid around £10,000!
In January, Virgile referred me to OT for a walk-in shower because of my poor mobility and disability. He also requested for a community care alarm to be fixed in my flat as I live alone so that I could get help 24/7. Virgile also applied for a disability freedom pass and the disability premium.
Virgile’s support to me has been exceptional and has changed my life, my dignity and my independence and well-being. Without this, I don’t know what my life would have been like right now. During this process, I lost my brother in Nigeria and throughout Virgile has provided me with exceptional emotional support and wellbeing. He is a wonderful individual.
Our congratulations to Virgile Bassa for winning this highly contended award! We are so proud to have you in the Family Mosaic team.