Sobel Case Studies

Case Study- Sustained relationship develops from ongoing partnership with borough-based support and development organization.

 This case study focuses on the benefits which have been delivered out of relationships developed by AdviceUK and local agencies and which have been possible through funding from London Councils for the Stronger Organisations Benefiting Londoners (SOBeL) programme.

A number of groups have been supported by an AdviceUK’s development consultant in the borough of Islington. This has been by virtue of the brokering of one-to-one sessions by Voluntary Action Islington (VAI) with locally based organisations requiring specialist support. The support given to the Kurdish & Middle Eastern Women’s Organisation (KMEWO) illustrates well this work.

AdviceUK started to work with KMEWO since September 2014 initially on opportunities to access funds. They were also advised on how to improve engagement at a local level with agencies such as Healthwatch and the local Law Centre for example.

After an initial meeting at the surgery set up by VAI the relationship of KMEWO and AdviceUK developed beyond the surgery – differently to the support given to other local agencies which in many instances are one-off. Advice UK went on then to start helping KMEWO looking into the legacy of their ‘Women’s Learning for Living Project’ which has been funded by the Big Lottery since 2012. They wanted to develop a Phase 2 of this project and to apply for renewed funding from same funder. This involved:

  • reviewing the previous bid to Big Lottery
  • scoping how best to approach the fact that KEMWO wanted to continue offering support to women who they worked with in Phase I and were now looking to further their opportunities
  • advising on ways that, in Phase II of the project, they could progress in opening up qualifications eg NVQs for women who benefited from Phase I
  • reviewing their commissioned evaluation report on Phase I
  • running a half-day planning session focused on Phase II

KEMWO is now in final preparations to submit a new bid to Big Lottery Reaching Communities. The ongoing relationship developed with AdviceUK means that they will continue to have access to trusted consultancy services.

Many thanks for the today meeting and all information regarding Big lottery fund and please see the attached email the previous (BLF) outline proposal and waiting for your support and suggestion.

 Kindest regard
Sawsan Salim
Kurdish & Middle Eastern Women’s Organisation

A similar sustained support was developed in Islington with the Community Language Support Services which AdviceUK has helped to secure funding from Trust for London and Big Lottery’s Awards for All.

Welwitschia Welfare Centre (WWC)

Welwitschia Welfare Centre is a charitable organisation set up in 1998 to facilitate the integration of African Portuguese speaking migrants, refugees and other people of African origin in Greater   London.   A community based organisation that prides itself in breaking down the barriers for established and new migrants from Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape-Verde, Mozambique, Sao-Tome, Brazil and Portugal and other minority ethnic groups from Latin American descent.

Welwitchia offers Quality Assured information advice and support in community languages. The service includes advice on social welfare matters such as housing, welfare benefits, money, debt and immigration.

Some recent WWC achievements include:

  • Supporting 1743 clients during the last year
  • Supporting the career development and opportunities of 95 young people who have gained vital experience through their volunteers programme
  • Supporting and befriending 48 elderly people who were living in isolation via the WWC home visit befriending project

WWC’s CEO approached AdviceUK’s SOBeL project for help with their advice service and to explore strategies to develop sustainable income streams and long term delivery of services. Welwitchia were in dire danger of having to close down unless they could obtain further funding. They had also run into difficulties with the renewal of their accreditation with the Advice Quality Standard following recent cganges to the standard. They needed the AQS before they could submit the funding applications they had planned.

Our organisational development service entailed one-to-one support which included reviewing funding applications before submission and also the development of a fundraising strategy. We also helped to develop the new policies that were required before they could pass their AQS audit and contacted the auditors to sort out any outstanding issues.

We are happy to report that thanks to London Councils SOBeL project, WWC managed to obtain re-accreditation with the AQS and secure funding. This funding has helped the centre continue to deliver its vital services while it explores more funding opportunities over the foreseeable future. WWC is now offering an advice service dealing more effectively with the problems faced by Londoners, particularly those resulting from welfare changes, in and out of work poverty and deprivation.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help and assistance in the last application for Trust For London. I am pleased to inform you that the application has been successful. The Trust has agreed to fund Welwitschia Welfare Centre £35,000 for the next three years for rent and towards the Co-ordinators post. I hope to get the Coordinators post now…The fight goes on!…

Thank you”

Pedro Lunguela
Chief Executive
Welwitschia Welfare Centre

Organisational development support surgeries for Islington Advice Agencies.

 SOBeL is adding value in London boroughs with specialist interventions which enhances the generalist development and support available from borough based infrastructure agencies eg Councils for Voluntary Services (CVSs).

One of the best examples is the relationship which has developed and continues to evolve between the SOBeL programme and Voluntary Action Islington (VAI). In the first year of SOBeL, a programme of workshops started including topics such as ‘Writing Effective Funding Bids’, ‘Understanding your Legal Status’ and ‘Effective Governance and Sustainability’. In parallel, AdviceUK started to deliver surgeries at VAI for advice agencies in Islington requiring specialised support. The surgeries have continued into the current, second year, of the SOBeL programme (2014-15). Over 40 organisations have benefitted so far from the training and surgeries.

The impact of these sessions has been the learning and the applying of it to their organisations.

The following is some of what participants have said about the attendance to sessions:

“Excellent trainer –lots of great tips!”

“Excellent course –very useful –excellent presenter!”

“The course on the day was excellent and I found it very helpful with golden nuggets of information.”

“It was a very useful and interesting training session and I really enjoyed it. I hope that it will help me with our future funding applications!”

“I have already recommended to my Committee that we follow this course of action.”

“These sessions are proving to be really good for the groups. Thank you for the session on Monday and for the feedback forms, everyone who I spoke to really enjoyed the session. The feedback forms are very positive and informative as it says where groups are at the moment regarding their fundraising.”

“Thank you for your great tips and advice on funding bids.  I could see we were a hard bunch to work with that day!! Will be writing out a plan for future bids.”

Beyond the positive written feedback, tangible examples of what interventions have led to include the raising of funds, for example by the Islington Community Language and Support Services:

“Thanks so much for your help; this will allow us to continue delivering vital services in the community. Trust for London also considered our application to fund the organisation £30 thousand over three years. Once again thank you for your help. It is really appreciated. As discussed now I am going to make an application to Lloyds TSB. Since I came from holiday I was so busy with client’s cases and all were successful. (Wezenet Haile Coordinator, CLSS –November 2014)

Other testimonies of success:
“The workshop run …was excellent and very helpful. I felt that it helped me very much to frame my funding applications on behalf of Dorcas Befriending Project. We have had some success with funding…”


SoBEL and the Advice Richmond-Together for Change ASTF partnership

 ‘Advice Richmond – Together for Change’ is a Big Lottery funded project under the Advice Services Transition Fund. This fund was set up to enable local not-for-profit providers of advice services to continue to give vital help to people and communities. The focus by the delivery partners (Richmond CAB, Age UK, Richmond Aid) is to bring together established voluntary sector agencies across the borough to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of local advice services to help residents across Richmond, Teddington and Twickenham affected by welfare reform or in-work poverty and other social welfare needs. AdviceUK has supported the network from the outset to the end of the first year of the programme with a range of activities including facilitating three sessions which are outlined in the letter below. Our input has enabled local agencies to work together more effectively and develop constructive relationships with other partners.

An additional positive outcome of our work with Advice Richmond has been a recommendation to another ASTF partnership. SuperHighways, one of the Richmond ASTF stakeholders, who has attended the sessions and seen how we facilitate these events has subsequently recommended us to the ASTF partnership in Croydon.

The testimony by the ASTF partnership Co-ordinator below summarises the work we have done so far:         


C/o Richmond CAB (RCABS)
5th Floor, Regal House
70 London Road, Twickenham
Direct Tel:     0208 8734 3921

To Whom It May Concern
Having won the bid to the Advice Services Transition Fund, we are leading on the ‘Advice Richmond – Together for Change’ project. This two-year Big Lottery (BL) funded project aims to transform the way advice is delivered in the borough. The partnership is made up of twelve local advice giving agencies plus housing providers. There are various different components of the project, e.g. a common client referral system and a central “one stop advice” website.

We are now approaching end of year one on the project and we have been working with Advice UK from the outset. To date, we have held 3 well attended partner meetings, each of which have been successfully facilitated by Advice UK. At the initial gathering, they carried out a SWOT analysis which worked well in terms of getting partners on board/ gaining a deeper understanding of aims.

At the second meeting, Advice UK delivered a Referrals Workshop. Objectives included: developing a common understanding of referrals/ signposting plus discussion of members’ experience of referring/ signposting and investigating an appropriate Referrals Protocol for the project. At the end of year one meeting, Advice UK helped with our Mid-term Review and gave partners the opportunity to feedback on the various project activities/ management. This involved an exercise whereby partners were split into groups and as a result, we have some really useful comments and ideas to report to BL and take in to year two of the project.

The support we have received from Advice UK has directly helped us in enabling advice services and organisations in Richmond to work better together. Both in terms of their professional and effective work at partner meetings as well as in helping us to plan events in order to get the most out of them. For example, at the recent end of year meeting, four questions were suggested by Advice UK as a means of gaining feedback from partners. One of which was around sustainability of the project post funding, which was invaluable in terms of reporting to BL and ensuring the work continues.   As above, the project aims to transform the way advice is delivered in the borough which obviously includes Richmond residents affected by welfare reform orin work poverty. Working with Advice UK has supported this aim and helped us to get the best from our partnership.

Best regards,

Julie Bone
Advice Partnership Project Manager

Presentation to UKIED (United Kingdom Investor Equality Diversity) on 18 June 2014 at the Metropolitan Police HQ in Hammersmith & Fulham

The objective of this presentation was to raise awareness about equality and diversity in the advice sector to the UKIED network. UKIED Network members include national voluntary sector and statutory bodies such as the Metropolitan Police, Mencap, the National Union of Students, College of Policing, Barnardos, Nursing & Midwifery Council, General Dental Council, Financial Conduct Authority amongst others.

Attendees had an opportunity to learn of AdviceUK’s London Councils SOBeL Programme and how we are working with organisations supporting particular equalities protected groups.

It was a great opportunity to raise awareness of good practice examples of equality and diversity in the advice sector and partnership working strategies.

The presentation also highlighted the challenges protected groups face as well as the service delivery challenges of advice giving organisations from an equality and diversity perspective. These include a reluctance by some BAMER groups to monitor equalities profiles of users and the stigma that is still attached to some protected characteristics amongst groups that represent certain cultural backgrounds. AdviceUK described the difficulties it encountered and how it worked in partnership with groups such as Stonewall to deliver awareness training and address this problem.

Debate was generated when participants discussed the need to include additional protected characteristics in future equality and diversity legislation such as socioeconomic status.

Some participants were concerned about the rising public resentment following welfare reform changes and how welfare benefit claimants are stigmatized and vilified.

Positive feedback form this workshop included:

“Thank you for delivering an excellent members presentation that was very informative and interesting that I know was very well received”

Anthony Earle Wilkes,
Executive Chair and Chief Assessor – United Kingdom Investor in Equality & Diversity (UKIED)

Measuring the impact of advice – A whole Person Approach-

The learning outcome of this workshop was to enable participants – representative of advice organisations and advice services – better understand the impact of advice, both in terms of improving the services they provide and the implementation of systems that are more effective and efficient. Participants shared experiences which gave everyone the opportunity to learn about how other organisations measure direct outcomes and impact. There was consensus amongst participants that measuring impact from a whole person approach may include looking at beneficiaries’ family life and relationships, access to work, health, wellbeing, skills/knowledge, empowerment, resilience and long term impact.

Debate was generated when participants were asked about the purpose of measuring the impact of advice – what are the measures there for? Are they for learning and improvement (ie for service improvement) or to convince and demonstrate (funders and decision/policy makers)?

In terms of demonstrating the value of advice to others (e.g. stakeholders, funders, policy makers, wider community and clients) there was agreement around the importance of designing impact measurement systems that understand what is important to clients and what meets funders’ requirements.

Discussion around how to resource impact monitoring was welcomed – the main recommendations included investing in infrastructure, supporting front-line teams and making it an integral way of how organisations deliver a service.

Evaluations from this workshop were very positive including:

  • Really good session, very inspiring
  • Energetic, well presented, inspiring, good examples from the floor – wish there were more time for the group discussion
  • Interesting ideas from the presenters and people participating in this workshop. Gave me ideas for my service.
  • Organisations awareness of impact improved

LCN SHARING BEST PRACTICE, IMPROVING SUSTAINABILITY: maintaining services for vulnerable Londoners

LASPO changes to civil legal aid, particularly reductions in scope and eligibility to social welfare law, were implemented on 1April 2013. These changes particularly impacted heavily on Law Centres who on average generated at least half their funds through legal aid contracts. However it would be a further 6 months before funds received reduced in real terms. This allowed LCN time to identify practices within Law Centres that could be shared with all Law Centres in an effort to maintain sustainable income levels.

Stuart Hearne, solicitor at Cambridge House Law Centre, is particularly successful at maximising the number of people helped through legal aid. Stuart was enthusiastic to share his insights and skills with other Law Centres and LCN organised a series of training courses across London. After the initial workshops with Law Centres, Stuart is also extending this training to other legal advice agencies.

The impact is that Law Centres and other advice agencies are, as a direct result of Stuart’s training, developing a new means of generating income and maintaining the number of people helped. The more important impact is the continued provision of legal advice and assistance to vulnerable people across London particularly at a time of major change and hardship.

CLAUK (Coalition of Latin Americans in the UK)

CLAUK is a Coalition of 9 organisations working together to campaign, raise awareness  and disseminate information concerning the challenges faced by the Latin American community.

Currently the coalition is made up of 9 organisations, 8 of which are London based:

  • The Latin American School of Artistic and Cultural Education (ESFORAL) – Islington
  • Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organisation (IRMO)- Lambeth
  • Latin American House (LAH) – Camden
  • Latin American Women’s Aid (LAWA) – Islington
  • Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)- Islington
  • Teléfono de la Esperanza- Southwark
  • Naz Latina- Hammersmith & Fulham
  • Casa Ecuatoriana –SENAMI – Camden
  • Latin American Support Group (Manchester)

The Coalition was founded in 2012 following the “No Longer Invisible” report carried out by Queen Mary University to further the recommendations of this research.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the community is the recognition of employment rights and access to employment advice.

Latin Americans in London work in poor and unfair conditions on the national minimum wage or London living wage, both well below the London average.  Given the large number of Latin Americans experiencing employment rights infringements, access to advice is seen as a priority. Out of the 8 organisations only 2 of us offer free employment advice but this is limited to general information with no casework.

AdviceUK was able to support CLAUK to explore alternative access to employment advice by encouraging partnership work with the legal pro bono charity LawWorks. LawWorks aims to provide free legal help to individuals and community groups by brokering relationships with voluntary organisations and lawyers.

As a result of AdviceUK’s support CLAUK member organisations have been invited to trial the LawWorks Free legal online advice, the Clinics Network and individual casework support for complicated Employment legal matters. This has provided members of the Latin American community with much needed direct access to employment rights advice that previously was not available. The possibility of setting up legal advice clinic/s targeting Latin American community groups was also discussed as an alternative option and this route is the next step that is being actively explored.