Sister of benefits cuts victim donates his money to charity

Sister of benefits cuts victim donates his money to charity

Mark Wood’s sister Cathie Wood with the benefits adviser at Oxfordshire Mind David Bryceland

Mark Wood

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

THE family of a vulnerable man, who starved to death after his benefits were cut, have donated the money he was wrongly refused to charities.

Cathie Wood hopes to prevent others ending up in a similar situation to her late brother, Mark, so has given some of the money to mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind.

Mr Wood, 44, had his benefits cut to just £40 in March last year, after Atos Healthcare assessed him as being fit to work.

An inquest into his death in February, which concluded with a narrative verdict, heard he weighed just 5st 8lb when he died of malnutrition in August last year.

A month later, the Department for Work and Pensions reviewed its decision to make the cut and launched an internal review into his case, after Ms Wood and her mother Jill Gant, from Abingdon, appealed.

She has received about £500 and has split the money, so far, between Oxfordshire Mind, the Green Party, The Biscuit Fund, Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, the Trussell Trust and Oxfordshire Welfare Rights (OWR) – all groups her brother supported or who could have helped him.

Ms Wood said: “I gave the donation to Mind in memory of Mark and to help prevent others suffering as he did because he, and others around him, were not aware of the benefits service offered by Mind and OWR.

“If he, and we, had known about the practical, efficient and caring help available to make appeals against benefits removal decisions – we think he probably would not have died.

“My mum also attended a carers’ support group at Mind when Mark lived with her so we are grateful for that.”

Ms Wood and her mother worked with Oxfordshire Welfare Rights (OWR) to appeal to the DWP.

Mr Wood, who lived in Bampton, had obsessive compulsive disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, phobias about food, pollution, paint fumes, and social situations, and cognitive behavioural problems.

The donation of about £100 to Mind is specifically for the Benefits for Better Mental Health team.

Project manager David Bryceland welcomed Ms Wood’s generosity.

He said: “I really do believe if Mark had been able to get to us, we could have sorted his benefits issues and this would not have happened.

“Donations we receive from people allow us to be creative with how we deliver the service, unlike state contracts which are very tightly controlled.

“We work with people who are in a similar situation to Mark and advise them what they can do. We also work closely with OWR for the more complex cases.”

Anyone wishing to speak to the Benefits for Better Mental Health team can call its hotline on 01865 263756 or email bbmh@oxfordshire-mind.org.uk

HOW MANY HAS MIND HELPED?

  • Oxfordshire Mind has helped more than 4,500 people since 2008, including more than 350 people so far this year.
  • In that time it has been involved in 700 appeals and has a success rate of 95-98 per cent.
  • Since changes to welfare came in, the charity has had an increase in calls to its hotline of 20-25 per cent.

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Comments (7)

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12:23pm Tue 20 May 14

Myron Blatz says...

Another 'wrong call' by Atos, and another example of just how the current Tory-led Government has got it all terribly wrong. But then, what do you expext from MPs who, in the past, have tried to rip-off the tax payers of the UK by wrongly claiming expenses? All politicians are not apparently corrupt or slime-bags, but they need to get their own 'house' in order, and stop he likes of Atos affecting so many ordinary, honest people.
Another 'wrong call' by Atos, and another example of just how the current Tory-led Government has got it all terribly wrong. But then, what do you expext from MPs who, in the past, have tried to rip-off the tax payers of the UK by wrongly claiming expenses? All politicians are not apparently corrupt or slime-bags, but they need to get their own 'house' in order, and stop he likes of Atos affecting so many ordinary, honest people. Myron Blatz
  • Score: 13

7:57am Wed 21 May 14

fourbanks says...

this was a most dreadful case and myself with the same illness as mark know only to well how he struggled to the bitter end

As for the mind charity they have been no help to me whatsoever as i don't live in their catchment area and people who give to charities need to be mindful of this as people like myself get no help from any charity and live in the body of a skeleton just like mark had lived because of the way the DWP has treated me over the past 34 years

Thankfully i do have a family with my wife my carer but none the less the DWP have been bane in my life as the third part to the marriage
this was a most dreadful case and myself with the same illness as mark know only to well how he struggled to the bitter end As for the mind charity they have been no help to me whatsoever as i don't live in their catchment area and people who give to charities need to be mindful of this as people like myself get no help from any charity and live in the body of a skeleton just like mark had lived because of the way the DWP has treated me over the past 34 years Thankfully i do have a family with my wife my carer but none the less the DWP have been bane in my life as the third part to the marriage fourbanks
  • Score: 1

10:03am Wed 21 May 14

semi-detached layby says...

This government and the ATOSSERS have ruined so many lives. The poor, the sick and vulnerable and the aged have been systematically vilified for being poor, sick, vulnerable and old.

The government campaign to do this has been fed by the likes of Ian Duncan Smith to the red top press, which is so right wing it only serves the very rich and dupes ordinary folk into believing that "we cannot afford to support those vilified, namely the poor, the sick and vulnerable and the aged."

We can and must afford it, as the eighth richest nation on earth. What is the country coming to that government policies end up with "narrative verdicts" like this? Most folk would use far stronger terms to describe what happened but if I were to write my views, this posting would probably be deleted.

My heart goes out to the family, to the deceased victim and to all those treated so badly by this awful policy. Time for a change!
This government and the ATOSSERS have ruined so many lives. The poor, the sick and vulnerable and the aged have been systematically vilified for being poor, sick, vulnerable and old. The government campaign to do this has been fed by the likes of Ian Duncan Smith to the red top press, which is so right wing it only serves the very rich and dupes ordinary folk into believing that "we cannot afford to support those vilified, namely the poor, the sick and vulnerable and the aged." We can and must afford it, as the eighth richest nation on earth. What is the country coming to that government policies end up with "narrative verdicts" like this? Most folk would use far stronger terms to describe what happened but if I were to write my views, this posting would probably be deleted. My heart goes out to the family, to the deceased victim and to all those treated so badly by this awful policy. Time for a change! semi-detached layby
  • Score: 3

11:01am Wed 21 May 14

John Witney says...

The family should have been this pro active when Mark was alive. Maybe if they had he would still be alive today. Did they not stay in touch with him so that they could see with their own eyes that he was malnourished and unwell ? If i would have a family member with his issues I would have had them at my home enjoying a hearty cooked meal regularly.This would also give me the added opportunity to monitor their overall well being. Mark's weight dropped to 5 plus stone and no loved ones noticed ? Now the family s photo is on the newspaper and they are smiling blaming his malnutrition on some government benefit organization ? Mark died due to his mental health condition and lack of proper supervision and care. Paying money after his death is a waste of tax payers resources.
The family should have been this pro active when Mark was alive. Maybe if they had he would still be alive today. Did they not stay in touch with him so that they could see with their own eyes that he was malnourished and unwell ? If i would have a family member with his issues I would have had them at my home enjoying a hearty cooked meal regularly.This would also give me the added opportunity to monitor their overall well being. Mark's weight dropped to 5 plus stone and no loved ones noticed ? Now the family s photo is on the newspaper and they are smiling blaming his malnutrition on some government benefit organization ? Mark died due to his mental health condition and lack of proper supervision and care. Paying money after his death is a waste of tax payers resources. John Witney
  • Score: 1

5:43pm Wed 21 May 14

jools52 says...

John Witney before we go blaming his family we need to know the facts. People with mental health conditions can and are very hard to deal with at times if they say they are OK what can you do he may have worn clothes bigger to disguise his weight loss, please be more mindful to his family regardless of what you think their downfalls were in this instance.
John Witney before we go blaming his family we need to know the facts. People with mental health conditions can and are very hard to deal with at times if they say they are OK what can you do he may have worn clothes bigger to disguise his weight loss, please be more mindful to his family regardless of what you think their downfalls were in this instance. jools52
  • Score: 3

6:01am Thu 22 May 14

John Witney says...

Jools 52, the family has blamed his death due to a cut to his benefit. I do believe you, them, and I can truthfully agree that was not the case. Your remarks above state that a person mentally ill with numerous ailments is difficult to help. This individual required care and supervision. I found your analogy regarding the possibility that he might have wore loose fitting clothes pretty interesting. Are you attempting to tell me you would not be able to distinguish that an adult male weighing just over 5 stone would not be noticeable ? He had previously lived with his mother, so his mental condition was well known within the family. The family member in the photo smiling could easily have checked on him regularly. Dropped a sandwich off or brought him to her house for a meal. I know what I speak, i do this myself for a family member with similar issues.
Jools 52, the family has blamed his death due to a cut to his benefit. I do believe you, them, and I can truthfully agree that was not the case. Your remarks above state that a person mentally ill with numerous ailments is difficult to help. This individual required care and supervision. I found your analogy regarding the possibility that he might have wore loose fitting clothes pretty interesting. Are you attempting to tell me you would not be able to distinguish that an adult male weighing just over 5 stone would not be noticeable ? He had previously lived with his mother, so his mental condition was well known within the family. The family member in the photo smiling could easily have checked on him regularly. Dropped a sandwich off or brought him to her house for a meal. I know what I speak, i do this myself for a family member with similar issues. John Witney
  • Score: 3

9:24am Thu 22 May 14

fourbanks says...

the problem we have here as with myself like mark with the governments cuts today is that you are on your own especially if your outside the catchment area of your local mind office as i am a good CPN like i have had in the past was a godsend but that too has been taken away

As i said above i have my wife as my carer but the DWP make my life hell with rarely them not sending me a form to fill in of some sort every couple of months or so and with that been going on for the past 34 years it takes it's toll on you

there was no way mark could have fought the DWP system for benefits with a mental health issue on his own and won the DWP would have breathed like they do me down his neck for the rest of his life and he would have known that i feel

my very sincerest condolences however i would like to pass on to marks family and just hope that the government get to learn how to treat those with lifetimes condition such as mental health and allow them to have a little quality family live free from the DWP
the problem we have here as with myself like mark with the governments cuts today is that you are on your own especially if your outside the catchment area of your local mind office as i am a good CPN like i have had in the past was a godsend but that too has been taken away As i said above i have my wife as my carer but the DWP make my life hell with rarely them not sending me a form to fill in of some sort every couple of months or so and with that been going on for the past 34 years it takes it's toll on you there was no way mark could have fought the DWP system for benefits with a mental health issue on his own and won the DWP would have breathed like they do me down his neck for the rest of his life and he would have known that i feel my very sincerest condolences however i would like to pass on to marks family and just hope that the government get to learn how to treat those with lifetimes condition such as mental health and allow them to have a little quality family live free from the DWP fourbanks
  • Score: 1

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