The Benefits and Work website has been supporting claimants since 2002.
And for most of that time there has been a forum on the site.
It has gone through various incarnations over the years.
In the beginning there were no moderators and posts sometimes didn’t get answered for many days.
Then there have been times when we had lots of moderators and when we ran separate forums for benefits information and for more general discussion about the politics of welfare benefits.
In recent years there has been a single forum aimed solely at supporting members with PIP and ESA/UC claims and appeals.
But, as benefits have become more complex and the pace of change has increased, we have struggled to find volunteers to act as moderators.
In fact, for a long time now, Gordon has been the only long-term moderator.
He has done an extraordinary job and there are literally thousands of claimants who would not have the award they do without Gordon’s help.
But it’s far too big a job for a single person to manage and Gordon can’t continue to work alone indefinitely.
So, we’re looking for offers of help and for ideas for ways to give the forum a long-term future.
One possibility we are looking at is offering online benefits training to people who are willing to commit to helping on the forum on a regular basis – health permitting at any given time.
Along with the training there would be access to support from a welfare rights worker to deal with queries that moderators aren’t sure how to answer.
It’s a role that might suit you if you’re looking for a way to make a contribution to the welfare of other claimants but you aren’t in a position to go down more traditional volunteering routes.
Or you might already belong to a support group for claimants with a particular health condition, but you’d really like to have the knowledge and expertise to help them with benefits issues because you know it’s an area where there is a real need.
Before we start the work of creating training materials we need to know if there are people out there with an interest in becoming Benefits and Work moderators, given proper support.
And if you have any other ideas for ways to ensure the long-term future of the forum, do comment below the line or email us if you prefer.