The Advice & Support Service provides free confidential front-line advice & support, advocacy, casework, outreach and specialist referrals. We have an Advice Service Quality Mark for generalist advice and have obtained 3 levels of Casework – Housing, Welfare Benefits, & Disability. The Service has 4 full time workers (1) Advice & Support Service Manager (2) Disability Advisor (3) Outreach Advisor (4)Administrator/Receptionist & 4 volunteers. The Advice & Support Service plays a vital and significant role in tackling a high level of need within the Irish community by giving advice and support in areas such as Welfare Benefits, Housing/Homelessness, Disability, Legal Issues, Identity, Tax and Debt Advice to name but a few. The Service addresses the problems of the ageing and vulnerable population through advice, advocacy, workshops & activities including a free Social Inclusion Film Club. We offer free ongoing Computer Training for Irish people aged 50+ who have little or no knowledge of computers. It has also developed useful partnerships with local/national organisations for the benefit of all clients. We are members of the FareShare free food distribution scheme that we subscribe to and we are recognised referral agents for Foodbank Haringey & Foodbank Enfield We are also one of the designated centres within the community for the distribution of Irish passport forms along with the provision of information when queries arise. We also run a free Bus Saver Ticket scheme to assist people to get to their destination ie Jobcentres, Doctor’s surgeries, job interviews etc, as well as a free Supemarket Voucher scheme whereby people can get basic food essentials. A very popular and ongoing initiative is the affordable Carmelite Mass Card undertaking where people can get affordable mass cards. For the past 2 years we have run a Christmas Food Appeal to assist the more vulnerable clients in a practical way to help them to get through the Christmas period. We have had items donated from individuals, supermarkets & also some financial contributions. Christmas just gone we assisted 50 families with food & toys. Sainsbury’s (negotiated a bread donation on a daily basis, had money donated for a Christmas event, the Christmas Food Appeal where they donated trolley’s of food & some money), Morrisons (this company sought us out as one of the 2 charities they want to be associated with for their community waste food project), they donate food to us every week on a Tuesday. We are also members of and subscribe to InKind Direct an organisation that matches surplus goods to Community groups for a nominal amount which we then distribute free to clients. We also distribute Radar Keys to people with disabilities who need quick access to toilet facilities when they are out and about. Christmas just gone we did our second Haringey Women’s Refuge Appeal whereby we collected and bought unused/new cosmetic goods and new Disney toys to give to women & their children who were in this refuge due to domestic violence and were totally isolated from their families while residing at this secret address. Last, but not least, we operate a Crisis Intervention Fund where we assist the most vulnerable members of our community in crisis situations. All these additional initiatives have been established over time to meet the more practical and immediate needs of the clients so that we are able to react quickly to situations that require a quick response.
Over the past nine months the Advice & Support Service has been successful in assisting 1278 people with 3578 office enquiries and 3,379 telephone enquiries as well as obtaining £2,166,330.88 in benefits. This has had an enormous positive impact on hundreds of lives and improved their circumstances substantially.