NAWRA members were saddened to hear of the deaths of Andy Campbell and Rob Jenkins recently.
Andy Campbell joined Greenwich Welfare Rights Service over 10 years ago. Having originally trained as a social worker, his passion for maximising clients’ incomes weaved through his social work and he then turned his hand to direct welfare rights work, initially at Kent County Council before coming to Greenwich. He had a finely tuned sense of justice and worked hard to identify DWP shortcomings at every turn. He was a fierce advocate for the most vulnerable. Andy continued to work after his diagnosis, buoyed by his client work and advocating for people. He was quick to share a laugh – except when it came to IT processes!
In his work, Andy was focused on DWP Safeguarding policy, and how these could be used to restore client benefits where processes had failed. Another important issue for him was following Greenwich Welfare Rights Service’s work on identifying missed Severe Disability Premium entitlement, he pursued a complaint for a client all the way to Ombudsman. The Ombudsman ruled that DWP should pay compensation and interest to the client as a result, and highlighted that this could affect over 100,000 clients. As a result of his work, the council gave him an award of outstanding achievement which he was very proud of.
A lifelong fan of Charlton Athletic football club, he loved his football and the occasional evening in the pub. His impact on the team and the residents of Greenwich will be felt for years to come. In the words of a welfare rights colleague: A client of Andy’s would always be in safe hands, which is about the best you can say about a welfare rights adviser.
Rob Jenkins started working as a Welfare Rights Officer for Stockport Council in 2001. He worked at Stoke-on-Trent Citizens Advice Bureau before then.
Rob was a devoted and highly-skilled advocate for the most vulnerable people of Stockport, helping them to navigate their way through complex benefit problems and tribunals, securing many millions of pounds in payments for residents during a very successful career.
Rob was intelligent and academically gifted. He gained a first class degree from Oxford. Rob could have pursued a very lucrative career if he had chosen that path. But instead, Rob chose to use his intelligence to help the poorest and most marginalised in society by becoming a Welfare Rights Officer.
Rob was great fun to have as a colleague. He never missed an opportunity to make us laugh. He was also always on hand to help. You only had to wonder out loud if a piece of case law existed and he would email you straight away with just what you were looking for.
Rob was also a key figure in the Greater Manchester Welfare Rights Advisers Group (GMWRAG) and the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA). His knowledge of social welfare law helped not only our residents in Stockport, but advisers around the country, many of whom have a tale to tell about ‘that decent bloke, Rob’ from Stockport Welfare Rights.
Rob enjoyed life. He loved spicy food, Derbyshire oatcakes, Leeds United and punk rock. He hated Robinson’s beer and boiled eggs – as any colleague who ever tried to eat an egg sandwich in the office will attest.
Stockport Welfare Rights & Debt Advice Team has seen very little turnover of staff during the past 20 years and so the loss of Rob has left a huge hole in our team. He is greatly missed by us all.