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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.


Our first pilot cohort of training took place on 13th, 20th and 27th June. Please find the initial information here and more details and future training will be uploaded shortly.


Our first Help through Hardship and Crisis conference, held in partnership with Citizens Advice Wandsworth, on Wednesday 26th July 1.00pm for a Networking Lunch and Conference 2.00pm-5.00pm at Springfield Hospital, Tooting.

The purpose of the conference will be to explore issues of hardship and crises that we have emerged through the first year of the project, and to hear from a range of public services and community organisations and members on how they have sought to address them, and in what ways the different systems that we work with can work together to create better pathways for people who are in need of help and support.

We will also be joined by Paul Martin CEO Wandsworth and Richmond Council and Dan Paskins Big Lottery Fund, among other guests, who will help us to set the wider context of our local work, and share with us some of the challenges in addressing complex issues and the necessity and opportunity of system change as a way to address them.

We will present two complex cases of hardship, which require collaboration across systems and agencies and invite a representative panel of agency and community experts to speak too:

  • The types of hardship or crises they experience in their service and/or community?
  • What kind of (system, network, knowledge, information, support…) would they like to have in place to make it better and easier for them to support people in hardship or crisis?

We will discuss these as a panel, and as a conference, seeking to emerge the joined-up pathways and routes to better and smarter relationships and collaborations.

For more information please visit Citizens Advice Wandsworth’s website here

Project Updates