Thursday, 17 April 2014

Your Big Book of Benefits

It was with mounting trepidation that I approached Llandrindod for the launch of Your Big Book of Benefits on 9 April. It was great to have the chance to explain myself and the book at CHC’s Welfare Reform Strategic Day and to witness Paul Langley’s shameless sales techniques, but thought I would explain a bit more about the book in this blog post.

Your Benefits are Changing is a way of acting together and I was delighted to join with the campaign to do something practical. The YBAC team liked our Big Book of Benefits and Mental Health for its practical toolkit content and friendly informal approach to give people the tools and knowledge to make a difference.

Your Big Book of Benefits is a broader, more comprehensive and more generic version of that same approach. Beneath its friendly cover – alternative suggestions included ‘Don’t Panic’ – there lurks 400 pages. BUT be not afraid – this is most definitely not a tome for the expert only.

Within it you will find full but simple explanations, practical page by page advice for filling in some of the trickier forms, sample completed forms, what to do next, Ten Top Tips, Benefits family trees (and I mean actual trees… well, pictures anyway) and case studies of a slightly mystical bent – Gandalf, Merlin and Hagrid all feature.

At the beginning you will find a useful overview of the system and the changes and a simple three step suggestion – with examples – as to how to navigate the complexities of an ever changing landscape of some 50 benefits.

This book is for the non expert with no prior knowledge assumed. It’s for housing officers and support workers, and tenants themselves. Of course, in this its first year, there may be the odd rough edge or something you feel could be better explained. If you have a comment, suggestion, spot an error, want to say what could be dropped or ought to be included, please let us know. There’s a feedback form in the back to make Your Big Book of Benefits truly yours.

And it’s not just a book! Dates will shortly be announced for a summer run of training days linked to (and using) Your Big Book. If you’ve read the book, why not see it live?

It’s been heavy going at times, with much cursing of Windows and Publisher 2013 in the wee small hours as .pdfs didn’t quite do their thing. However, though full of the ‘if only I had time to do this’ or ‘tweak that’ doubts of an anxious new parent, I allow myself some pleasure and small pride that it has got here.

I hope you and Your Big Book will be very happy together and that you can make a real difference in troubled times.

You can order your copy here

So long and good luck!

Tom Messere
Author of Your Big Book of Benefits

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