Community News

An Information Service for Hall Green –

current stage of development -     

March 2017

 

FINDING INFORMATION OR ADVICE

OLD WAYS

Ways of obtaining information and advice in our society are changing fast.  In the main face- to-face reception facilities have been withdrawn and those who for any reason find it difficult either to identify their need or to use/access computer technology are severely disadvantaged in obtaining resources or services. 

Organisations such as the police, social services, Department for Work and Pensions, Citizens Advice Bureau, Neighbourhood Offices, Housing Departments do not have a local presence in Hall Green.  There is no ‘one front door’ where people can go for help, although there are many organisations and activities willing to offer what knowledge and expertise they have.

AND NEW WAYS….

On the other hand, information technology makes detailed and up-to-date information  readily available and those accessing it can often manage their own affairs without help from anyone else. 

A project is currently operating throughout the city known as Gateway to Birmingham Advice Services (GBAS).  The plans have been drawn up by a group of providers – a partnership of 15 organisations providing advice services in the city (including CAB, Freshwinds, Birmingham Settlement, Shelter, Age UK etc).  Its purpose is to transform a disparate, unco-ordinated and variable array of advice services into a cohesive, reliable and co-ordinated programme, where scarce resources are targeted on those who are most vulnerable or in most need.

It will do this by integrating the provision of advice, offering advice at an earlier stage in an attempt to prevent crisis, and moving from high cost methods (face-to-face) to lower cost methods (phone/webchat).

WHAT WILL THIS MEAN IN PRACTICE?

People needing advice will be required first to seek it by using the internet or maybe the phone. If their situation is more complex, they will be referred to specialist advisors. However, there are many people who, for a variety of reasons, will not find it possible to handle even simple queries by phone, searching on the internet or webchat.  Some of these will need support if they are to carry through the advice and assistance that they have been given.  Some, having made a simple query, will be ‘signposted’ to organisations handling more complex issues such as debt advice or legal matters, and will need or want to be accompanied to those appointments so that they can make best use of the specialist advice.

It is these people that we aim to help, not by providing advice ourselves, but by locally

  • Providing support in seeking information
  • Signposting to other facilities as required
  • Providing support as required in following the issue through

WHAT HAVE WE DONE SO FAR?

The opportunity to apply for funding from the City Council (Local Innovation Fund) prompted some rapid planning.  An application has been made by a consortium (“Hall Green – Stronger Together”) consisting of Hall Green United Community Church, Highfield Hall Community Centre and Gospel Oak Community Centre and includes a request for funding to set up an Information Service.  This has the support of the local councillors and we are hoping for success when it goes to Cabinet on 11th April.

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT PLANS?

  • To co-operate with the Gateway to Birmingham Advice Services in setting up a system which makes it possible for disadvantaged groups of people to use the service they are providing.  We are the first area in the City to be thinking this way, so our progress will be watched with interest.
  • To hold a 2 hour session/bureau once a week in each of the three Centres.  Laptops will be available together with volunteer helpers for those unfamiliar with or unable to use the internet, but who know what they are trying to find out or do.  Further volunteer helpers will be trained to help those who find it difficult to identify what their need is or do not know where to start looking for help. 
  • To join AdviceUK, a nationwide organisation, which will provide support in matters such as quality assurance, record-keeping, monitoring, insurance cover etc.
  • To form a working group with voluntary representatives from all parts of the Hall Green community which will develop all aspects of the service, including its governance.
  • To draw in volunteers, again from all parts of the community, including students.  These will form a team working in any of the 3 centres as needed.
  • To work on attracting sponsorship and funding to secure the ongoing financial viability of the service.

CONCLUSION

The ‘consortium’ invites, at this early stage, all community and faith groups in the Hall Green area to become involved in developing this community initiative.

The information and ideas in this paper are based on discussions with:

Karen James, Birmingham City Council Customer Services

Jude Deakin, Project Manager, Gateway to Birmingham Advice Services, CAB

Dal Warburton, Development Consultant, Advice UK

Austin Rodriguez, Neighbourhood Development and Support Unit, Birmingham City Council

 

Support Us

We aim to be a Community Church, helping to support and improve the area in which we are situated. 

In order to visit us

                                                                                          Hall Green United Community Church

609 Reddings Lane

Birmingham
B28 8TE
 

E-mail: info@hgucc.org.uk

 

Or use our contact form.

 

Our Registered Charity Number is 1162079

 

SERVICE TIME: Sunday at 10:30

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