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  • Help and support

An advice service project

Need

People in this rural area find it difficult to obtain advice about their rights, particularly people on low incomes. This is for a number of reasons including: confidence levels, literacy levels, poor levels of understanding about rights before a crisis point, lack of affordable transport to local services, a lack of time or childcare when doing two jobs, mental health issues related to joblessness. Money and debt problems are a source of stress that affect beneficiaries' quality of life and mental health.

Evidence

The information provided below is an example. When referring to consultation or research, you should include dates to show when it took place (ideally within the last two years to ensure it is up to date) and clarify the source of the evidence.

 

  • Feedback given to voluntary sector advice agencies from 200 clients, collected by Chesterton Citizen's Advice Bureau throughout 2010 and 2011, includes information about the type of advice received previously and the extent to which it was useful, the main difficulties in accessing advice services and how they were overcome.
  • A review of services in the area during 2010 and 2011 by Derbyshire County Council confirmed that people find it difficult to obtain advice about their rights, particularly people on low incomes.
  • In June 2011, Derbyshire County Council gathered feedback from a focus group of local stakeholders including 10 local people, 5 advice agency staff and 2 solicitors from surrounding areas to talk about possible solutions to the gap in services. It concluded that existing services needed to be extended to rural areas and should be easier to access.
  • Over the last six months, advice agencies in Derbyshire have reported a 30% increase in enquiries and a waiting list of 40 clients.
  • A survey of 110 people who do not currently use rights services was conducted by Top Survey UK Ltd in January 2012. They were reached through other local services, such as benefits agency, playgroups, housing federation etc. This provided information about what kinds of communications would work best to help them find out about services and the main barriers that might stop them using those services.
  • Focus groups carried out by Chesterton CAB in February 2012 with 30 potential beneficiaries showed that they needed help with financial management, debts and welfare because these issues were causing them stress and anxiety that was affecting their quality of life.
  • GPs and health professionals in Derbyshire have seen an increase in numbers of people experiencing stress in 2011, due to their financial situation and report that they do not know which agencies to refer them to.
  • Derbyshire County Council's 2011/12 Sustainable Community strategy (see Chapter 2: Recommendations) references a need to focus on improving access to advice and support for vulnerable groups.

The overall aim for the project

People in households with low incomes in this rural part of the district will have a better quality of life as a result of improved access to good quality rights-based advice.

Outcome(s) for the project

  • Increased amount of income generated by advice services for people on low incomes that will improve their economic well-being
  • Increased capacity of advice services to deal with additional clients in rural areas, giving people on low incomes better access to advice
  • People on low incomes will experience reduced stress and anxiety, as a result of financial advice leading to improved well-being.

 

Tracking progress

Outcome Indicator Indicator level Timescale
Increased amount of income generated by advice services for people on low incomes that will improve their economic well-being The amount of new income generated by the project for those with low incomes  15 in year one and 30 in each subsequent year demonstrate increased income as a result of advice given By the end of each project year
    15 in year one and 30 in each subsequent year access at least one new benefit as a result of advice given By the end of each project year
    A total of 95 service users on low incomes will report increased income as a result of advice given By the end of the project
Increased capacity of advice services to deal with additional clients in rural areas, giving people on low incomes better access to advice Number of new clients seen by advice services  100 in year one and 150 in each subsequent year access the service more than once By the end of each project year
    100 new clients in each year are referred to the service By the end of each project year
    Advice service offers advice to a total of 425 more clients on low incomes in rural areas By the end of the project
People on low incomes will experience reduced stress and anxiety, as a result of financial advice leading to improved well-being Level of stress reduced by accessing regular advice 15 in year one and 30 in each subsequent year report reduced stress and anxiety levels as a result of accessing the service By the end of each project year
    15 in year one and 30 in each subsequent year demonstrate indicators of increased mental well-being such as reduced sleeplessness, alcohol intake and a reduction in doctor visits as a result of accessing the service By the end of each project year
    A total of 95 service users on low incomes report increased well being as a result of advice given By the end of the project


Activities

  • Recruit staff, complete business plan and begin marketing
  • Money advice drop-in sessions held twice weekly
  • Outreach surgeries held monthly within health and community centres in the local rural area
  • Recruitment and training of 10 volunteers to provide advice to their peers
  • Assess quality of advice through peer review and surveys.

Learning

The project learned that certain types of approach worked better than others in different settings, so these were tailored during the second year to maximise impact. Some groups of service users were more likely to provide feedback than others on the service and so consultation methods had to be reviewed to reach the more marginalised service users.

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