Advice and Advocacy
In Partnership with Citizens Advice Wandsworth
What is the challenge?
- Over the last few years, one of the most worrying trends is the significant increase in situations where people have reached an emergency in relation to a lack of basic needs such as food, shelter, fuel and basic health and/or social needs
- In Wandsworth 4078 people recieved emergency food in 15/16, a 25% increase on last year. Excess winter deaths are highest in London. 50% of people with debt have a mental health problem
What have we done?
- In a recent report, 67% of people who experience severe and multiple disadvantages said they are more likely to speak to a trusted friend or neighbour as their first contact when they experience hardship crisis
- We brought together groups who are supporting communities experiencing hardship challenges to identify the places and spaces where early intervention advice and advocacy may be able to prevent people falling into crisis
- Successfully applied for resources from the Big Lottery to develop a community centered advice and advocacy network
What we would like to do next
- Build on existing community knowledge and skills by providing information and training in advice and advocacy where the gaps exist
- Offer Citizens Advice referral routes and casework support. Extend referral routes into statutory services so that a more coordinated and joined-up range of support is made available
- Gather stories and case studies to build an evidence base on what is needed to support people out of hardship and crisis.
Our Project with Citizens Advice Wandsworth
This is a four year project (commencing summer 2016) to help people in crisis take back control of their lives in Wandsworth. The Big Lottery Fund is funding the project. We will work with community, social and faith networks and groups to provide tailored, community-based advice and advocacy for local people.
Support will focus in particular on older and isolated people, people with mental health issues, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, care needs, drug and alcohol issues and in newly arrived migrant and refugee communities who are suffering hardship. It will address the underlying causes of crisis through advice on issues such as employment, homelessness, debt, and health problems. Citizens Advice Wandsworth will train community champions to provide ‘advice first aid’ and put people in need in touch with the support they need to improve their circumstances and has advisers who can take referrals of people who need advice.
Co-Design of the Advice First Aid Training Programme
Potential Advice First Aid trainees and representatives from Help Through Hardship Crisis project partners came together in March to discuss and co-design the pilot Advice First Aid training programme.
Representatives from Age Activity Centre, Elays Network, LittleVillage, S.T.O.R.M, Putney Wellbeing Friends, WCEN and Citizens Advice Wandsworth participated in the workshop. The group discussed situations Advice First Aiders will face and what skills and resources they need to gain, through the training programme, so they can assist people effectively.
Issues around homelessness, social housing, mental health issues, addiction, claiming benefits, domestic violence, asylum seeking and pay day loans were discussed and participants discussed their training needs in order to be able to work with individuals experiencing these hardships in their communities.