AdviceUK held its 8th Annual Conference, Navigating Stormy Seas, at Maple House in Birmingham on 13 October, 2016. The conference was well attended and supported as always by the advice sector and sponsors and exhibitors.
Using a nautical theme this year, the conference addressed the theme of leadership and the key issue for advice agencies – How can they continue to provide vital services to their clients when demand is increasing but funding is being cut?
Introduced by Steve Johnson, Chief Executive of AdviceUK, Conference Chair, the Journalist and broadcaster Liz Barclay, , guided those attending throughout the day culminating in the closing plenary ‘Leading Questions’ debate with Gareth McNab from Nationwide Building Society, Denise McDowell from the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, and Claire Mansfield from the New Local Government Network.
Picture 1: Lord Willy Bach with AdviceUK CEO, Steve Johnson
Lord Willy Bach, Chair of the Access to Justice Commission and Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire, was the keynote speaker in the morning plenary session, and gave an impassioned speech about the importance of the advice sector and the necessity of cross-party collaboration to help solve the issues that would otherwise lead to people without appropriate advice falling into destitution, poverty and illness.
Picture 2: Lord Willy Bach, Keynote Speaker at the AdviceUK Annual Conference
A wide range of workshops were held throughout the day aimed at helping advice agencies to help their clients more effectively. As well as a business surgery and a workshop on change management, these included help with some of AdviceUK’s core services such as:
- Learning more about using case management software – AdvicePro and its reporting functions
- Extracts from AdviceUK training courses including the very popular:
- How to improve funding bids
- Providing effective supervision
- How to make the most of volunteers
- Consulting services for example the provision of pro bono advice and working with higher education institutions
The AdviceUK exhibitors included a variety of regular supporters from AdviceUK’s own membership, services such as UK AdviceFinder, as well as from regular sponsors.
Whilst no hard and fast solutions were forthcoming about how to solve the sector’s funding problems, a strong consensus emerged that not only is the advice sector central to helping individuals exercise their rights, but also a major safety net that neither the government nor the private sector would ever be able to provide.
AdviceUK’s CEO Steve Johnson said:
“Good advice is vital, not just for helping people exercise their rights, but also to prevent poverty and illness – problems that poor advice, or the lack of advice, exacerbate.
“Leadership in the advice sector is more important than ever. AdviceUK’s membership remains strong and AdviceUK’s innovative activities and ideas are generating considerable interest from outside the advice sector. We will continue to find new ways to help our members in whatever way we can, so that they can continue to help members of the public in need”.
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To enquire about membership or participation in any of our extended category schemes or any of the services AdviceUK offers, please contact the AdviceUK membership team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0300 777 0107 or 0300 777 0108.