New Starters - Chris Saxon
Meet Chris, our Benefits and Welfare Rights Adviser!
Hi, my name is Chris and I'm the Welfare Rights Adviser at The Brunswick Centre, after spending 6 years as a volunteer at Citizens Advice, Wakefield.
An interesting fact about me is I once tripped up former world heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno in a hotel corridor. I should add that I was a child at the time, and it was an accident, I was too busy playing Pokémon on my game boy to notice where I was walking and bumped into his legs. I don't think I've ever seen my dad as scared as he was in that moment!
1. What's your role at The Brunswick Centre?
Welfare Rights Adviser is my main responsibility and job title, which can include benefit entitlement calculations, help with applications, support during assessments, tribunal representation and everything in between. My role isn't strictly limited to benefits issues and I'm happy to help with any other areas of advice work such as housing and employment just to name two. As of late I've been helping a number of our service users with homelessness applications and internal review requests of homelessness decisions which I've enjoyed doing!
2. What have you learnt about yourself from doing the work you do?
I've learnt from this line of work that I can be much more courageous and assertive than I ever thought I could be. I'm very much the opposite day to day, I'm someone who is anxious at the thought of calling to order a pizza or book a takeaway but I have no issues at all arguing on behalf of a client in front of a judge. It's quite strange really, there's something about standing up for someone that brings out the best in me, it's a big reason I enjoy this sort of work.
3. How important is making a difference in your line of work?
Good advocacy can make all the difference to a person's life when it comes to accessing public services. It can be the difference between having a roof over your head and being out on the street, or it can be the difference between being able to afford food and warmth or not. It's an unfortunate reality that is often an uphill battle for individuals trying to get what should be basic human rights.