Edinburgh Legal Walk

2017 EdiLW Fundraising Banner

A CHAI/EHAP Team successfully completed the Edinburgh Legal Walk on Monday 9th of October – a 10 Km walk around the centre of Edinburgh.

Why we walked?

The need for free legal advice and representation has grown in the past few years. The recession has increased poverty and reduced support services. Meanwhile funding for the advice centres themselves has reduced.The work our Edinburgh Housing Advice Partnership (EHAP) service does:
  • Prevents families being made homeless
  • Prevents destitution
  • Helps people gain the support to which they are entitled

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If you want to help us continue to provide an effective and free Court Representation Service for those facing eviction/repossession for rent or mortgage arrears, you can still donate here

Thanks!

Don’t be lonely this Christmas

 

Christmas Lunch with the Salvation Army

This festive period, The Salvation Army will be holding a Christmas lunch.

The lunch is open to all those who are lonely and would like company for Christmas. There will also be a Church service at 11.00am, open to anyone who would like to attend.

Lunch will be from 12.30pm to 3.00pm, with coffee which will be served from 12.00pm.

The lunch is free but booking is essential. Help with transportation can be arranged. Please contact Kathy Betteridge on 0131 346 2875 or 07769 224667.

Christmas at Crisis Skylight

Crisis Skylight Edinburgh support single people who are homeless or vulnerably housed.

They are holding a Christmas event at the Southside Resource Centre at 117  Nicolson Street which people can drop-in into. The event will run on:-

Christmas Day and Boxing Day from 8.00am to 8.00pm

New Year’s Day from 12 noon to 8.00pm

For more information contact the Christmas team at ccedinburgh@crisis.org.uk

So, what exactly is it that you do?

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If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked that question about CHAI over the years … well, I’d have several more pounds than I do at the moment.  It’s commonly asked by a wide range of people who may have had a specific reason for initial contact with us, but who then quickly grasp that there’s more going on than they may have at first thought.

The basics:  CHAI – the Community Help & Advice Initiative – is a ‘third sector’ organisation with charitable status, operating as a Limited Company.  In very broad terms we are a social welfare agency, delivering a range of services which are intended to improve the conditions of life of vulnerable people living in our communities.

So, what do we do?

We’ve just started a new operating year (2011/12) so, in a summarised answer to that question, here’s a quick tour round what CHAI will be doing in the months ahead.  These are in no particular order:  they’re all equally important.

Advice Services

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One of the cornerstones of our service delivery is ensuring that the people we work with have access to quality advice, information and representation about income, debt, housing and the myriad of other issues which affect daily life.  Our National Standards Accredited Advice Service operates from full-time offices in Wester Hailes and Liberton/Gilmerton – as well as providing home visits and outreach surgeries as required.  We alsEHAPo provide specific support to NHS Lothian’s Vocational Rehabilitation Service – ‘Working Health Services Lothian’, and CHAI is the lead contractor for the City wide homelessness prevention advice service – the Edinburgh Housing Advice Partnership (EHAP).   During 2011/12 our Advice Service will continue to deliver Advice Services in line with City strategies on Advice and Health Inequalities.  Changes to Housing Benefit, and to the assessment conditions around Incapacity Benefits are likely to feature significantly in workloads this year.

Addictions Support

CHAI is commissioned by the Edinburgh Alcohol & Drug Partnership (EADP) to provide drug andEADP Logo alcohol support services across the South-West of the City, operating from office bases in Wester Hailes and Oxgangs.  The focus of these services is on individuals and families where substance misuse is an issue, with specialist staff working towards harm reduction, child protection and recovery outcomes through a mix of practical, social and clinical interventions.  Close links are maintained with the NHS Lothian Community Drug Problem Service and with a range of other referring medical professionals.  Joint working on delivery is carried out locally with the Wester Hailes Health Agency.  This will be an important year for the Service, with the recently launched EADP Strategy:  ‘A Framework for Partnership Action 2011 – 2014’ providing a template for service delivery.

Housing Support

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Maintaining vulnerable people in their homes, and assisting them to live as independently as possible is a key component of CHAI’s service mix.  Our Housing Support Service works across the City, supporting individuals who require help with independent living skills such as budgeting, dealing with official correspondence, managing appointments and relationships with third parties and generally managing their tenancy or home.  Although Service Users can be anything from 16 years to over 100 years old, most of the people supported by CHAI’s Housing Support Services are over 50, with over a quarter in the 65+ age range.  Our Housing Support Service is regulated and inspected by the new body, Social Care & Social Work Improvement Scotland (formerly the Care Commission).

Employability Support

CHAI contributes to the City’s ‘Joined up for Jobs Strategy’ JobCentre Plusthrough our South West Neighbourhood focused Employability & Support project.  This service is specifically aimed at people who are most marginalised from the job market; those currently at Stages 1 & 2 on the ‘Employability Pipeline’ – and categorised as ‘Not Job Ready’.  The focus of our engagement is on removing those obstacles and barriers that prevent our target client group from moving on through the ‘Employability Pipeline’ and on into work, training or education opportunities; barriers such as debt, addictions, housing crisis, income, health and low confidence.  The key to this work is engaging with service users in their neighbourhoods, and at the point in their lives where they are ready to receive that support.  It’s about planting seeds and helping people move forward at the pace that is most appropriate to their needs.

Early Intervention Family Support

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This service, focused on the Pentlands area of the City, is aimed at working with families where there are early indications of support needs, and providing interventions designed to address these at an early enough stage that they don’t go on to become more problematic later.  The activity supports the strategic objectives in the City Integrated Children’s and Young Peoples’ Plan.

Furniture Recycling Service

Furniture leafletOur Furniture project collects donations of re-useable furniture and household items and recycles these back out to the community.  Last year we diverted over 100 tonnes of furniture that may otherwise have ended up in landfill, carrying out 0ver 200 deliveries of basic start up and replacement furniture items to new and established tenants on low incomes.  If you have furniture items you no longer need, and are in good condition … give us a call!

DCHA Tenancy Support Service

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Commissioned and funded by Dunedin Canmore Housing Association (DCHA), this project works exclusively with new DCHA tenants housed in the Association’s ‘South Housing Area’, with the aim of assisting in tenancy sustainment outcomes.  Over 50% of new DCHA tenancies are let to people who have come through the homelessness route, and may have experienced issues with sustaining tenancies in the past.  This project works with the tenant and DCHA staff right from the very start of the new tenancy, addressing any issues which may impact on the sustainability of the tenancy.

Youth & Community Development Work

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CHAI’s work with the Rank Foundation promotes a range of group and individual support activities aimed at developing young people and the communities in which they live.  Realising potential and developing leadership is at the heart of this work: building the social capital of the community.

As well as this mix of advice, support and development services we also offer ‘Crisis Intervention Drop In’, where people experiencing short-term crises around, for example, income loss, can access emergency food parcels.

Joining these services together in one organisation maximises their impact, enabling cross-fertilization of the skills, knowledge and experience of staff throughout the Project – for the enhanced benefit of those using the services.

So, if you were wondering what we do … now you know.

For more information, details about how to contact CHAI – and how to access our services – have a look at our website:  www.chaiedinburgh.org.uk

It’s all going on …

Celebrating Quality Advice

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On 17 March 2011, Councillor Paul Eadie, Convenor of the City of Edinburgh Council’s Housing, Health & Social Care Committee will host an Event at the City Chambers at which CHAI and Granton Information Centre (GIC) will be formally presented with National Standards Accreditation Certificates by Sheriff Principal Edward T Bowen QC – the Sheriff Principal of Lothian and Borders.

Of course, CHAI and GIC are – along with Four Square and Move On – partners in the Edinburgh Housing Advice Partnership, and the Event will also be an opportunity to highlight the positive contribution that EHAP has made to preventing homelessness in the City of Edinburgh.

The Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice Providers are a Quality Assurance Framework covering 6 key areas:

1.         General Management
2.         Planning of Services
3.         Accessibility and Customer Care
4.         Providing the Service
5.         Competences for Staff and Agencies
6.         Resources

The Standards define Advice in 3 ‘Types’:

Type I – refers to Information Provision

Type II – refers to Casework

Type III – refers to advocacy, representation or mediation at Tribunal or Court Action level

CHAI underwent an external audit, conducted on behalf of the Scottish Government by Michael Bell Associates, on how well we met the National Standards on the three assessable topics of Money Advice, Welfare Benefits Advice and Housing Advice and the outcome of this was that CHAI has been Accredited to Type III on all topics.  EHAP Partner, GIC were similarly Accredited to Type III on the Combined Advice topics, making CHAI and GIC the only two organisations in Edinburgh Accredited to this high level across the Combined topics.

The Auditors reported that “From the cases reviewed it is clear the service (CHAI) is providing a high quality advice service”.

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Commenting on the Accreditation, Alex Neill MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Housing and Communities, said that he was:

acutely aware of the valuable work carried out in Third/Voluntary Sector agencies across Scotland in providing housing and money/debt/welfare benefits advice and information to clients requiring such support.  The sterling service provided by organisations such as CHAI and GIC contributes enormously to the Scottish Government’s efforts to ensure a wealthier, fairer Scotland for all our citizens.”

CHAI provides advice, information and representation to thousands of Edinburgh residents each year – advocating on their behalf to Benefit Authorities, Housing Providers, Creditors and any other body that impacts on their lives.  We also represent at hundreds of Tribunals and Sheriff Court cases, achieving high levels of income and other positive outcomes for clients.

While never being complacent about it, we’ve always felt that the service we provide has been of a consistently high quality, and we are delighted that this has now been formally recognised through our Accreditation under the National Standards.

At a time when there is ever greater pressure on public resources, and increasing demand for advice and support from a public reeling under the impact of these pressures it is important that services like ours continue to be available, accessible and delivered to a high standard.

Check out our Facebook page after 17 March for some photos and chat from the Event at the City Chambers.

Anyone who needs to contact CHAI’s National Standards Accredited Advice Service can do so by phoning the Appointment Line on 0131 453 6410, or via the CHAI website.

Joining up Service Delivery

Well, we’ve had the UK Coalition Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.  We’ve had the subsequent Scottish Budget handed down from Holyrood … now all we wait for is the local budget from the City of Edinburgh Council, and confirmation of where the pain will be felt.

We know there will be cuts – we’ve been softened up for it ever since the Conservative/Lib-Dem Coalition took up the reins of power at Westminster in May.  We know, in the Edinburgh context, that these cuts are going to be serious:  we’ve been hearing that message loud and clear from the Council administration and officers.

Some Local Authorities, in response to what is coming, have started talking about pooling resources; joining up the way they work in areas of common interest.  There has been some talk that those organisations in the Voluntary Sector who are reliant on public funding need to be thinking along similar lines.

It’s all about maximising value from reducing resources; joined up thinking leading to joined up working.

At CHAI we like to think we’ve been doing this for years.  We were designed specifically to take a broad and holistic view of social welfare; to build services around individuals and families.  The range of services CHAI provides: advice, information and representation; housing support; substance misuse support; youth and community development; early intervention family support; and furniture recycling – and the various office bases and outreach venues from which they are delivered – provide, literally and figuratively, a range of ‘entry points’ into the wider, holistic service.  A genuine ‘One Stop Shop’, which – when it works properly – delivers a range of appropriate social welfare interventions, even where the service user was initially unaware of the existence of those services or supports.

A new tenant may initially contact CHAI because they had heard that we can provide basic furniture items (Furniture Recycling Service), but that initial contact may open up those ‘doors’ into those other services about which the enquirer had no knowledge:  Housing Support, to help a sustainable transition into a new community and onto independent living;  Advice Services to provide specific interventions around maximising income or addressing debt issues;  Substance Misuse Support if there are any drug or alcohol issues that might inhibit integration to the community.

At a time when the public purse is being squeezed more tightly than ever before, it is even more important that value is provided from those resources.  Joining up service delivery is one way that CHAI achieves that value.