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You say, we do

BY Liz Bayram | October 31, 2023

Together, AdviceUK members are a vibrant and diverse community of advice services. They are at the heart of everything we do as a team of staff and trustees at AdviceUK.  This is because we know how important it is for our members to exist, whether part of a student union, housing association or large charity – or a small, independent, service providing general advice to their local community or specialist advice.  Our vision is that every individual, regardless of means, should be able to access the advice they need so they can exercise their rights and deal with any legal or social welfare problems they may face. The support we provide to our members helps their vital services provide the quality advice so many people rely on.

Since becoming AdviceUK’s new Chief Executive in April, I have been focussed on understanding what our members value most about our support; what they want us to do more of and where they see gaps in our support. It has been a pleasure meeting so many members, both at our regular forums as well as during visits to see their services in action.  I have appreciated their warm welcome; their reflections on the challenges we need to help them overcome; their honest and constructive feedback on what AdviceUK does well and what we could do better.

All of this, alongside our ongoing engagement with members, has helped us develop our new three-year strategy and secure the Board of Trustees commitment to invest in our capacity, so we can do more for our members.

At the most recent round of member forums, I summarised the main themes I’d heard from members so far. Of course, there are lots more but below were the most frequently mentioned issues –

You Say We Do

You say We're doing
We need support with workforce challenges
  • Improve our training offer to better support you
  • Use grant funding to develop new innovations
  • Develop a sector-wide strategy on how to sustain the advice workforce
We want you to raise the profile of our sector and the difference it makes
  • Grow our capacity to promote our members’ work
  • Increase our social media presence #advicesaves
  • Develop new activities that help raise awareness e.g. Advice Week
  • Grow engagement with the media
  • Attend more events and conferences
We need access to more funding
  • Continue to influence the work of funders; government and other decision-makers
  • Seek opportunities to collaborate with members e.g. consortium bidding
  • Seek funding commitments for the advice sector from all parties in the run up to the Westminster election 
We need help to support staff and volunteers’ well-being
  • Develop new innovations e..g Community of Practice
  • Seek expert partners to work with us to provide well-being support for members
  • Improve our online portal e.g. creating an online membership community
We need you to update us more on how you’re influencing our operating environment and get us more involved
  • Improve member communication e.g. using social media, vlogs and blogs to share what we are doing
  • Work with members to develop our campaign priorities and involve them e.g. as spokespeople, case studies
  • Support joint campaigns with members where we can
We need member benefits that help reduce our costs and deliver quality advice
  • Continue to improve our current benefits e.g. the training review
  • Change any benefits that are not supporting members effectively
  • Develop new benefits if members feel they would add value e.g. outsourced ICT support

Members who attended the forums were positive about our plans. Whilst they recognised that some may increase demand on already stretched advice services, the consensus was that our new strategy was focussed on the things that matter most to members; that raising awareness of the value of the advice sector was critical, even if it increased demand.

So, the team at AdviceUK (staff, trustees and the consultants we work with) are now into the detail of planning how we move forward. We want to involve our members in helping us further improve our work where possible. This will be key to us successfully delivering the support and influence needed to achieve the changes members told us they want.

If you are a member and want to get involved, you can do so in many ways – attending forums; joining working groups as well as the day-to-day conversations you have with us. Perhaps you want to:

  • help us develop the well-being service we plan to offer to all our members
  • get involved in our awareness raising work as a case study or spokesperson
  • support us to test our plans to develop online member communities so you can more easily connect with each other

Maybe you have other ideas too? If you would like to get involved, we would love to hear from you, so please email membership@adviceuk.org.uk

Everyone at AdviceUK is looking forward to working with our members to build on the progress we have already made. Together we are better!

You may have found your way to this blog via my vlog, but if you haven’t seen it, you can find my vlog on our YouTube channel

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Together, AdviceUK members are a vibrant and diverse community of advice services. They are at the heart of everything we do as a team of staff and trustees at AdviceUK.  This is because we know how important it is for our members to exist, whether part of a student union, housing association or large charity – or a small, independent, service providing general advice to their local community or specialist advice.