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February 2016                          Unsubscribe from this list
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Citizens Advice Shoreham Officially Opened by Tim Loughton MP




Staff, volunteers, trustees and supporters joined by Tim Loughton MP came together on Friday 12 February for the grand opening of Citizens Advice Shoreham-by-Sea at their new base in the Shoreham Centre.
 
Julie Martin said “Our new home at the Shoreham Centre provides a warm, welcoming and positive environment for our team of volunteers to see clients who are often in distress when they come to us for advice. This is a great opportunity and a great location to provide support and services to the people of Shoreham and surrounding areas and we’ve already seen an increase in people accessing advice from us. I think the fact that there are other services here and it is a much more welcoming environment when people are in need of help and support, makes it a great facility to come and use.
 
Tim also welcomed the new Civic presence in Adur at the Shoreham Centre, where residents can now access the Council’s help point and access council services.
 
Tim Loughton MP declared the Centre officially open, marked by the cutting of a ribbon.
 
Tim said: “Citizens Advice help so many people in Shoreham each year and have done so for many years, often when constituents come to me for advice on issues I send them straight to Citizens Advice as they are the experts.
 
This (Centre) is something to be proud of and the community can use this building to come and access council services and get help and advice from Citizens Advice. It’s the new heart and hopefully quite a buzzing heart of Shoreham”

Adur and Worthing Councils put together a film as a record of the event featuring interviews with our own Julie Martin and Lee Furlong which you can see here
Shoreham Centre Opening

We look forward to seeing even more clients in the new centre back in a central location.

CASSCA on Film


We recently worked with Hector Media, a local film production company, to create some short promotional videos about our services and the work of our advice teams.  

We were delighted that some of our clients wanted to take part and tell their story about how our advice has helped them, and we are extremely grateful to them. A big thanks also to all of our volunteers and staff who also took part.

We commissioned three videos in total; a film about the advice service we provide, one about our volunteers and their experience of volunteering with us, and a film about the ICAS NHS Advocacy Service. These will be especially useful for promoting our charity and the work we do to the public other organisations as well as giving a taste of what it is like to volunteer with us.

All of these can be viewed on our website www.cassca.org.uk or on our
You Tube channel by following this link CASSCA You Tube Channel
How we have been helping clients
 

Landlord troubles

Our adviser recently helped a client who was having huge issues with their landlord including unexplained rent increases at random intervals as well as being told by the landlord what time of the day they were allowed to be in the accommodation they were paying rent for. The client felt very threatened and anxious by this. It was clear that the client was vulnerable so we helped them to understand their housing rights and supported them to get an appointment with the local council Housing Officer in order to find alternative accommodation. Following the meeting the Housing officer felt that the client had priority need and was offered accommodation more suited to their needs. The client was extremely pleased with the outcome and excited to move into their new accommodation.

Great Feedback
Two of our Shoreham Advisers recently received some great feedback on the service they provide.

Mary Kelley was praised by a client for her knowledge and experience in dealing with their issue stating that she showed great interest and professionalism, and really put the clients at ease.

Lorraine Nightingale received great feedback on the advice provided to one client which they found very helpful and "would reccommend to others". "Advisers know what they are talking about which is very helpful".
 

Macmillan

An elderly couple were referred to the Macmillan service; the wife was about to have surgery for bowel cancer.  The adviser found that both had a number of health problems and difficulties with their personal care, and were caring for each other and they were not receiving any benefits. 
 
The adviser completed Attendance Allowance applications for both of them, and they were both subsequently awarded the high rate of £82.30 per week.
 
The adviser then helped them both apply for Carer’s Allowance for looking after each other.  These claims then opened up eligibility for other benefits and, because of premiums due to their disabilities and the fact that they were caring for each other, the adviser calculated that they would be eligible for Pension Credit of £60.16 per week, and full Council Tax Relief.
 
The adviser assisted with claims for these.  It took several visits to put all the different claims in place, but it was well worth it as the couple ended up with a total of £249.76 extra per week in benefit income. 
 
The couple were very relieved that they did not have to worry about managing on just their pensions while also struggling to cope with their health conditions.  They were also pleased to let the adviser know that the wife had been given the ‘all clear’ following her bowel cancer operation.

ICAS NHS Advocacy Service
A client came to the service for assistance in making a complaint about the death of a relative who had suffered a fall and the client had questions about the circumstances of the fall. The client mentioned that their relative's death was also the subject of an Inquest.

As the client was unable to secure any legal representation at the Inquest (a common difficulty as there is no Legal Aid for Inquests other than in the most exceptional circumstances) the ICAS advocate assisted the client in preparing for the inquest. This consisted of attending a serious incident report meeting with the client, a pre-inquest hearing and then the inquest itself at which the advocate asked questions to the Coroner and witnesses on behalf of the client who felt they would be unable to ask themselves.

The client was satisfied with the outcome of the inquest and felt they had got the answers they had needed in order to be able to move on with their life.

Through assisting at the inquest the Advocate helped get the answers the client wanted which meant the client did not feel the need to put in a subsequent complaint.

Welcome to our new volunteers


We’d like to send a very big welcome to all of our new volunteers who have joined us since December: 

Sandra, June and Julie in Burgess Hill,
Mai, Maham, Lesley, Sheila and Anamika in Crawley
Angela in East Grinstead
Peter and Colin in Haywards Heath
Selda, Linda, Rosa & Afagh in Horsham
Veronica, Caroline, Elizabeth, Carole, Sandra, Lucy, Jean, Roger in Shoreham
Rikesh, Nigel, Jonty and Brian in Worthing


Our new volunteers are from all over Central & South Sussex and will cover a number of essential roles for us, such as assessors, administrators and receptionists, which will help us to continue to provide the advice people need to solve their problems.

We provide full training and support for all roles and pay travel expenses. If you are interested in volunteering for us or would just like to find out more email us at volunteer@westsussexcab.org.uk
 

Lancing Information Hub Open Morning
10am-1pm, Friday 4 March 2016


The Lancing Information Hub at our Lancing Advice Centre is looking for volunteers. There are a number of voluntary roles available and all volunteers receive full training in all areas.

The Hub helps the local community get the free advice they need using a variety of mediums. Our Information Assistants help the public in the hub, directing people to the guidance they require and helping them to access the internet. Our telephone Gateway Assessors undertake calls for advice for Lancing and Central and South Sussex, guiding or directing people where necessary. Lastly our Webchatters and emailers help people online with their issues.

We are holding an open morning from 10am to 1pm on Friday 4th March, anyone can come along and see the new Information Hub in action, and find out more about volunteering with us. Or alternatively please contact
volunteer@westsussexcab.org.uk for more information. 

Service news

Macmillan Horizon Centre

Macmillan are due open their new one stop shop for people affected by cancer. The 'Horizon Centre' will open in April at The Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton. The Centre will provide a range of services in one place including dietitian service, complimentary therapies, information and signposting and welfare benefits advice. 

We will be jointly delivering the Welfare Benefits Appointments Service with our Citizens Advice Colleagues in Brighton and Hove, along with Eastbourne Housing Association.
 

Universal Credit


To mark the arrival of the new benefit here are top five facts you need to know about Universal Credit: 
  1. Universal Credit is a new benefit for people in and out of work, which will eventually merge six benefits into one: Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. Currently you can still apply for ESA separately from Universal Credit.
     
  2. Universal Credit does not include Council Tax Support- you will still need to apply for this locally.
     
  3. You apply for Universal Credit via a single application. You’re usually expected to do this online, but you can apply over the phone or in person if you need to. 
     
  4. Universal Credit payments are made on a monthly basis, rather than weekly or fortnightly like previous benefit.
     
  5. You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you're waiting for your first payment. This is called a ‘short term advance’.
In the last 12 months local Citizens Advice across England and Wales have helped people with over 150 Universal Credit issues every week. The most common queries have been about eligibility and how to start a Universal Credit claim.
 
Universal Credit rolls six working-age benefits into one single monthly payment, supporting people who are on a low income or out of work. It is being introduced in stages across the country, in the first instance to single people who are making new claims. It will eventually be rolled out to couples, families and people who are sick or disabled.
 
Benefits is the most common type of enquiry people turn to us for help with and Citizens Advice Central and South Sussex has helped people with just under 15,000 benefit queries in the last year.
Research and Campaigns

We continue to focus on local actions which are relevant to the communities we serve. In several centres we have seen a spike in problems with access to homelessness services; and problems getting Local Authorities to negotiate repayments of council tax arrears once these have been passed to bailiffs. We are carrying out further research in these areas until the end of March 2016, when we expect to report our findings.

With the advent of Universal Credit we anticipate seeing many clients who will have trouble making and managing a claim online. We are putting together reports based on Crawley, Horsham and Worthing based on client surveys, which show that around 40% of people would need help with online applications. Our findings are also being shared with Government Digital Services (GDS). 

Government Debt Collection
We have contributed to a national Citizens Advice report :

The Stare of Debt Collection: The Case for Fairness in Government Debt Collection Practice

The report reviews the experiences of our clients and advisers when dealing with debts owed to government.

Between 2005/6 and 2014/15 the number of local and national government debt issues that Citizens Advice helped people with more than doubled.

The report states that our clients can suffer detriment when public bodies have uncoordinated and inconsistent approaches to debt collection. Evidence shows that central government debt collection lags behind the higher standards expected of other creditors – HMRC being amongst the worst.

ESA Work Capability Assessments
ESA work capability assessments still causing huge problems. We recently saw a shocking case whereby a medical assessment centre had no wheelchair access, so the claimant was forced to go fro reappointment which delayed much needed benefits.   Now that Brighton centre has closed the difficulties and cost of travel to remote centres may be exacerbated.

Future planned projects include: work on the fairness of JSA claimant commitments, particularly as these apply to clients with health conditions and disabilities;  and research into the impact of rent arrears on families.
 
People Management Survey 

We have been taking part in the pilot of the Performance Quality Framework. 

The performance and quality framework (PQF) will replace the old style three yearly audit. In a nutshell, the performance and quality framework allows the Citizens Advice service to understand the quality of services - and how they vary locally; see when services are improving or getting worse - with enough time to make changes; prove quality robustly to funders and regulators and spot risks early on

It focuses on 5 crucial things we all need to get right:

1. Client experience
2. Quality of Advice
3. People Management
4. Leadership
5. Financial Health


As part of this a staff and volunteer survey has been carried out to gauge the satisfaction of our teams.

Over 90% of those surveyed felt they were clear about their role and responsibilities, had been given sufficient opportunity to develop their skills and undertake training and were treated with fairness and respect and would recommend CASSCA as a place to work and volunteer.

The next stage is a survey of our clients views which is currently in progress and we hope to report back the results in our next newsletter.

Participants were also asked what the best thing about volunteering at their centre was, here are some of the comments;

"I love the autonomy I am given to do my job and the sense that I am very constructively contributing to my community"

"Working for a well organised charity that has passion and commitment to help others in an effective way. I enjoy my work here and no day is the same."

"Feeling that you do make a difference and that people generally walk out happier than when they came in"



Healthwatch West Sussex needs your help and would very much like you to take part in a communications survey.
 
Since its launch in 2013, Healthwatch has built up a large following including patients, carers, healthcare professionals and members of the public – people who are interested in the services we provide and the improvements that we help to bring about in the health and social care sector in our county.
 
Healthwatch shares its activities, reports and achievements with its wide and varied audience mainly through its website – www.healthwatchwestsussex.co.uk - regular newsletters, and on social media; Twitter and Facebook.
 
Now, nearly three years after its launch, Healthwatch is reviewing all of its communications methods to establish how effective they are and how it can be done better. This involves a survey, focus groups, research into what works well for other organisations, as well as individual conversations with representatives from across its ‘audience’.
 
The survey will only take a few minutes of your time but will provide Healthwatch with really valuable information that will help them to create the right marketing and communications strategy to better support its activities in future.
 
You can access the survey simply by clicking on the following link:  http://bit.ly/1XiXGAw
 

New Supervisor In-house Training Course


Congratulations to Karen Coombs and Sughra Khan who have both successfully trained and qualified as new Supervisors. They have both completed their Supervisor training at Head Office but have also undergone a 3 month in house training programme.

For the first time ever we have put together a training plan for trainee Supervisors, which involves them spending time observing all parts of the organisation from duty rooms to projects and specialist services. By taking this approach to training supervisors we aim to enable them to gain a comprehensive overview of the whole business so that they can understand the needs of the Charity as a whole, rather than just the Centre they are based in. During this time they have also spent time shadowing other experienced supervisors.

We currently have one other adviser going through the training program who is making great progress.
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