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Formerly: Pakistan Advice & Community Association

Advice Project

Firval Community Hub's Advice Project has continued to see an increase in the number of cases relating to the economic climate creating a higher demand for intensive services, unfortunately alongside a background of cuts as a result of reduced council funding. This means we are delivering greater services with fewer resources.

The main enquiry types that were presented are:

All the above categories with the exception of immigration can to an extent be argued to be related to the economic climate, although we have always had large numbers of users accessing the service among these categories. However, the types of cases in the different categories have changed – we are seeing higher numbers of Job Seekers Allowance applicants, higher numbers of appeals and tribunals.

We continue to gain better diversity amongst our clients, with larger numbers of white British service users than ever before. This demonstrates our commitment to providing services for the whole community to benefit from, and further strengthens and consolidates our position as a neighbourhood centre.

We have adopted new working practices to ensure a streamlined service, with lower waiting times for clients and more efficiency for staff. This includes a triage system, whereby simple cases are dealt with very quickly, and clients who do not have all the required documentation for their case to be dealt with at a single visit are given a checklist, to enable them to return and have their case dealt with as quickly as possible, and to prevent people waiting needlessly. This has worked extremely well and feedback from clients has been very positive.

Our specialist services continue to operate, including the EU migrants advice drop-in service (which we have continued despite funding being cut), and the women-only session. We have also added a Somali drop-in session once per week utilising a Somali staff member, to respond to the needs of the local Somali community, a section of which are resident on the Wensley estate nearby. So far the demand for this service has more than justified its continuation, and we are continuing to monitor this closely in terms of ensuring there is sustained demand, and establishing whether further specialist services are needed.

We continue to see an increasing number of clients with immigration related queries, whether it be asking for advice on how to complete visa extension forms, or more complex queries from clients who have overstayed their visas. The organisation is regulated by the Advice Quality Standards and Legal Services Commission for Quality Mark and the Office of Immigration Services Commission to give immigration related advice. These standards were achieved by the organisation, which include an annual audit of the centre’s client based work as well as the policies and procedures of the organisation.

 

 

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