A DAD left suicidal after his disability benefit was axed says his life has been saved by Citizens Advice.

And an autistic teenager from Northwich says her mental health has improved after her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was reinstated.

Staff and volunteers at Cheshire West Citizens Advice are continuing to work at home during lockdown.

The team has retrieved more than £100,000 in backdated benefits after winning appeals for claimants between February and March.

Many had struggled to survive without the extra financial support PIP provides for people with illness, disability or mental health conditions.

A dad-of-four spoke about the harrowing ordeal he faced when after his PIP application was refused.

"I was in a very dark place," said the 47-year-old, who lost his partner and his family. "If it wasn't for Citizens Advice, I wouldn't be here today.

"They gave me hope and saved my life."

Surgery left him disabled.

"I had a valve replacement in my heart and was starved of oxygen which left me with brain injuries,"he said. "I couldn't work."

Now, after two and a half years, a tribunal has reinstated his PIP and awarded £15,000 in back payments.

"Citizens Advice fight tooth and nail for you," he said. "They should all be given medals. They are lovely. Some of them are volunteers, they do it to help people. When they reopen I'm going to put flowers in all their offices.

"I've got my life back. I've got a car now and can get to hospital for my bloods and see my kids. I've met a lovely lady and I'm getting married next year."

Tanya Pickering, from Northwich, whose 19-year-old daughter Eloise has autism, said: "Eloise suffers with depression and anxiety. She had to drop out of college because of her health."

A decision last January to refuse PIP was overturned and Eloise was awarded back dated benefits of £4,000.

Northwich Guardian:

Eloise Pickering, 19, who has autism, and mum Tanya after winning her PIP benefit appeal

"It has taken a huge weight off her shoulders," she said. "I only work part-time because she relies very heavily on me.

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"The whole process was such a weight on her mental health. Now, this has given her confidence and independence. She feels as though she can contribute something towards the household.

"Citizens Advice have been fantastic. They took on the system which wasn't something either of us felt we could do."

To contact Citizens Advice Cheshire West call the advice line number 0344 5766111. Advisors are available from 9am until 4pm Monday to Friday.