Advanced search

To volunteer on the sly? (benefits)

(31 Posts)
Esaworry Tue 05-Mar-19 14:53:45


I have been on ESA for around 2 years. I have very bad anxiety and depression.

I fought very hard to get my award. I had to go to tribunal with medical evidence and the judge awarded it me straight away.

I am in the higher group.

I don't socialise. Have friends. Go many places...

I've been very lonely and isolated

I am adopting an animal and have made several trips to see them with a family member.

I like a certain species of animal and the sanctuary doesn't seem to know how to look after them the best way.

I would like to go once a week and clean out cages, make toys for them etc...

But I'm terrified if I ring DWP and ask about this they will tell me if I can do 4 hours there then I can work.

I'm not even sure I will be able to do it right now. Its just a thought.

But I don't know. If I did do it WIBU to not mention it to DWP for fear they will sanction me or something.

It seems unfair I can't try and do something that might help my mental health? I'm just very scared of getting I trouble and them taking my money/award away sad

TheQueef Tue 05-Mar-19 14:55:50

Are you in support group?

Whywonttheyletmeusemyusername Tue 05-Mar-19 14:57:05

If you're on ESA, you can work, and earn up to £125 pw. If you're volunteering, I'm pretty certain they wouldn't sanction you. In other words, if you were getting paid, they couldn't sanction you, so no reason why you couldn't volunteer. Good luck

Esaworry Tue 05-Mar-19 14:58:25

Yes I'm in support group.

Really? I just thought they would tell me if I can. Go there I must be better

Awwlookatmybabyspider Tue 05-Mar-19 15:01:31

Im not going to encourage you to do anything on the sly. I can't.
However one thing I will say is The Government are sneaky fuckers. They might and i stress the word might say. If you can work volentary you can get a paid job.

TheQueef Tue 05-Mar-19 15:02:06

There are guidelines on .gov and you can volunteer or do less than 16hours paid up to £125.

I would be wary about your esa review they could argue that you need wrag or even jsa.

tattooq Tue 05-Mar-19 15:06:10

I agree with Queef above, it shouldn't be an issue while your on ESA but it could mean you're moved on JSA at review as you're seen as capable of some work

IHaveBrilloHair Tue 05-Mar-19 15:06:17

I wouldn't risk it.

Esaworry Tue 05-Mar-19 15:11:50


I don't think I can risk it.

I feel like I'm not allowed to do anything that might help me on the road to recovery.

I'm bored out of my mind and so sad

TheQueef Tue 05-Mar-19 15:16:50

Have a look at supported permitted work the sanctuary may be able to offer support.

Ted27 Tue 05-Mar-19 15:18:16

@esaworry google the NCVO website. That has a good guide to volunteering whilst on benefits.

You can volunteer as long as it meets certain criteria which are different depending on the benefit being claimed.

Hont1986 Tue 05-Mar-19 15:30:56

As previous posters have said, you can do unpaid (or even paid) work without it stopping your ESA. You do have to get permission from the DWP first; the rules are here:

But there is also the risk that if you are doing a lot of hours, this might count against you when you are reassessed. A consistent record of 10+ hour weeks would certainly make the DWP want to find you fit for work; you'd be safer if it was only 2-3 hours a week and sporadic rather than regular.

Tomtontom Tue 05-Mar-19 15:31:08

I'm really torn on this because I'm a complete stickler for rules, but you want to do something that will improve your health but well aware that it could be used against you. Crazy situation.

It wouldn't fall under supported permitted work unfortunately, they'll only grant approval for that if it's supervised/ supported by a recognised disability employment service (most of which have gone now with all the cuts).

I'd be inclined to do it and not say anything. If they ever did find out play dumb and say you didn't know you had to declare it as it's not work, it's volunteering. The worst they can do at that point is reassess you, and/ or ask you to complete a permitted work form. They can't sanction you or penalise you financially as you've not claimed anything you're not entitled to.

Tomtontom Tue 05-Mar-19 15:34:25

Are you under the community mental health team? They should have an employment advisor who can coordinate supported permitted work, if you did choose to declare it.

earlyrisingcat Tue 05-Mar-19 15:35:07

It is a risk sadly... Even if they are OK with it (DWP,) I would worry about them thinking/saying on your next assessment, that if you can do volunteer work, you can do regular work.

It's sad, but this is what keeps many people on disability benefits from doing anything. (Even if they could do bits and bobs to get out a bit/relieve their boredom/meet new people/feel they are contributing something etc...)

Unfortunately, with these assessor twats; if you are caught carrying a family sized bag of maltesers, it means you can work full time. hmm

TheQueef Tue 05-Mar-19 15:49:57

Perfect example of the benefit trap.

FriarTuck Tue 05-Mar-19 15:50:57

But surely if it's going to help you on the road to recovery then it won't matter if they then expect you to work for a certain amount of hours because you'll be able to and wanting to? And equally if it doesn't help you then you'll be stopping anyway because you'll be too anxious to continue?

BollocksToBrexit Tue 05-Mar-19 15:58:12

Talk to your doctor, get her to advise you that doing something voluntary like this will be beneficial to your health. And get it put on your records. Then if they kick off you can show that it's part of a treatment plan.

My friend was reported for volunteering at a dog rescue. The fraud investigator asked her why she thought it was ok. She told him that her psychologist at the hospital recommended it, and gave their details. She's never heard anything since. That was 3 years ago.

Esaworry Tue 05-Mar-19 16:00:51

Not really Friar.

There's a whole world of difference in deciding if I want to go and play with animals for 3 hours one day a week (and have the choice to say no I can't do it today if I wake up anxious and upset, know I g not going won't result in me bei g sanctioned and my money stopped) and being told I have to get a 16 hour job in Asda with strangers and responsibilities and pressure of being late/ Ill or feeling like I can't talk to people that day.

One makes me smile the other makes my mind immediately go to self harming and suidial thoughts sad

WhoWants2Know Tue 05-Mar-19 16:00:53

You can certainly volunteer on an occasional basis, when you feel well enough.

It's whether you are consistently and reliably able to work that determines whether you receive ESA.

Esaworry Tue 05-Mar-19 16:03:41

It's sad because who knows what a few hours a week doing something g I love might lead to but I just don't think I can risk it.

When I had my ATOS assessment they told me I had good rapport because I wasn't rocking or self harming in the interview room.
God knows what they would make of me volunteering for a few hours.

flumpybear Tue 05-Mar-19 16:08:26

I don't know but just wanted to say I hope you find a solution that helps you and the animals - will the Center Allow you to just pop in and help play with the animals?

Surely making toys is ok? Does it mean people can't knit poppies etc for charity too - the government are shit !!!

joangray38 Tue 05-Mar-19 16:12:47

I was allowed to volunteer as my gp said it would be good for my mental health and help my depression. Fo and ask your dr if s/he will support you and that you need this interaction to improve and aid your m/h.

Esaworry Tue 05-Mar-19 16:14:21

You're right Flumpy. I'm sure I can make some bits (I'm good on a sewing machine and make beds, hammocks, dens for small animals) and take it in.

I'm not sure they would let me hang around unofficially as I think you have to have a CRB check?

Bellasorellaa Tue 05-Mar-19 16:19:11

dont tell them
and i was on esa for a few years due to the same condition as you, getting out and doing stuff helps a lot

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »