Have I ever told you about my friend in New Zealand who was told off by her boss for being too efficient?

She worked for the NZ equivalent of our Department for Works and Pensions.

She used to bring blankets from home to give to people. When the season at our biggest employer came to an end, she would work nights to clear benefit claims to ensure nobody went without money.

You would have had to prove to Carol-Ann that you were a benefit cheat – not the other way around.

Before you all ho hum and click your tongues at me, let me remind you that I am writing this column on the back of two recent West Cumbrian stories where people who are ill and seriously disabled have had benefits cut for what can only be described as stupid reasons.

I have been lucky enough to be able bodied and to work all my life. This is not because I am better than anyone else. It is sheer good fortune.

I have only ever once had recourse to deal with DWP – and it scarred me for life!

Most of you probably know the story but just to recap:

My husband and I made a decision unwise in every respect except the most important. We decided, when I was 52, to return to the UK after 30 years in New Zealand. We came back because my mum was getting older and my sister was ill.

No financial repercussions (even the fact that I am still working instead of enjoying retirement) can compare to the joy of spending time with my mum and my sisters and the privilege of being with mum and Fiona when they died.

In every other way it was financial suicide. My husband was already retired. I was 52 and jobless and had cashed in a lucrative pension to be able to afford a house here.

I won’t even tell you the difference in the exchange rate and house prices – but suffice to say we got a two-and-a-half-bedroom funny wee house for a price that would have given us a mansion with tennis courts and swimming pool where we lived in New Zealand nearly 16 years ago.

I needed a job so went to something called The Job Centre.

Didn’t really understand what it was but hoped the clue was in the title. I didn’t want a benefit. We had money to live on. I was told I would have to “sign on”.

Then I was told that I had to prove I was looking for work and had to visit them twice a week with proof that I was.

I came out, got into the car and burst into tears. I felt so humiliated, degraded and was given the impression that I had no worth whatsoever.

By the way, I later got a letter saying they had turned down the benefit I hadn’t even asked for – but if I could prove that it would endanger my life to return to New Zealand I could apply for refugee status!

We need more Carol-Anns. I am sure life for DWP staff is not always pleasant. I am sure there are people trying to buck the system and that the workers themselves are under pressure to save money by refusing benefits.

In the end the frontline staff are just people doing their job and it must be sometimes disheartening and sometimes a tragic job to do.

In the film I Daniel Blake , some of the cast were people who had worked for the DWP and become so disenchanted by the system that they had left. These are the Carol-Anns. These are the ones who left before they ran out of compassion. We need more Carol-Anns. These are the people who will take the time to ensure we understand the system.

These are the ones who will go out of their way to help you to meet the requirements of collecting a benefit or, in the case of Atos, making a fair assessment of what you can and can’t do.

We need more Carol-Anns.