Voluntary and Community Sector Advice Grants approved
On Monday 25 March, Cabinet approved its new Voluntary and Community Sector Advice Grants, which protects the £770,000 fund allocated to independent advice services for local residents.
The advice grants are one part of the Council's wider £2.6 million community grants programme. They are allocated every two years through an open, competitive process with assessments undertaken through an application form and interview to identify which organisations will best meet the grant objectives as set out in the advice grant framework.
The new advice grant framework has been shaped by three years of working closely with voluntary sector partners to co-design an improved advice service. This included actively engaging 19 of Hackney’s local advice organisations as well as more intensive engagement with three of the larger providers of advice in Hackney.
This work has helped the Council and local advice providers to understand how the current advice service “system” is working and how it can be improved to deliver a service that better understands and meets the needs of residents.
It has allowed the Council and partners to develop a much better understanding of what people want and need from advice services, to make sure residents are receiving the right support in a timely way, and that the advice they receive addresses any longer term support needs, rather than just immediate issues. The new grants schemes also ensures underrepresented groups have access to advice services that meet their needs and that providers work more closely together to best support residents.
Some of the providers receiving funding include:
Hackney Community Law Centre: Legal advice, casework and representation
Praxis: Working with residents in crisis or at risk who need support and legal advice, due to immigration issues
East End Citizens Advice Bureau: Full range of CAB services provided by a consortium of local providers
Shelter: To fund an advisor based in Dalston to provide general and legal advice on housing and homelessness
Age UK: Advice for older people
Hackney Advice Service: Accessible advice to meet the needs of mental health and disabled residents
Agudas Israel community services: Support for those from the Charedi community
Day-Mer: Accessible advice service for Turkish and Kurdish residents in Hackney
Hackney Chinese Community Centre: Support for Hackney’s Chinese and Vitenamese communities
The full report and list of grant recipients can be found online.
We value the important role that advice services play in Hackney. That is why we have protected the advice grant budget and worked in partnership with advice providers over the last three years to co-design an improved advice service. The services we’re helping to fund will provide independent advice for residents when they need it most and are a key part of our £2.6m community grants programme.
“While some organisations have been allocated a smaller share of grant funding this year, the recommended combination of providers will result in an updated service that better meets the needs of residents, delivering what matters to them.
The Council is aware that Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC) has raised concerns about the size of its grant allocation. HCLC has been awarded a new grant in accordance with the application and assessment process, which is lower than their previous grant award but the second largest grant being awarded to any single provider.
The Council fully engaged with HCLC throughout this process and they were one of three advice providers that benefited from intensive engagement from our grants officers and a systems expert between October 2016 and January 2018.
As with any open competitive grant process, previous individual grant amounts should never be considered a guarantee of future amounts. However, the Council recognises the challenging environment in which voluntary organisations are currently operating. Funding has been identified that could be put towards transitional and developmental support where appropriate, and the Council will continue to seek to work collaboratively with advice sector partners.