Advice Providers Network – Sandwell Council
Posted on 16th May, 2019
Delivering Better Outcomes by working together
Sandwell council has an active grants programme which includes spending of about £1 million each year on voluntary sector organisations that deliver free advice on issues such as benefits, debt, housing, immigration, employment. Six years ago, services were operating in isolation, with competition for funding, a lack of training, particularly for lone advice workers, and very low levels of referral. The Sandwell Advice Providers Network was set up with a focus on developing co-operation between providers, improving quality and providing free training and briefings. Any organisation that provides free advice in Sandwell is able to join the network. Over 15 independent advice providers are members including: Citizens Advice Sandwell, members of Sandwell Consortium, AgeUK, Cranstoun, EMCONET, Centrepoint Christian Church and the council’s welfare rights unit.
A group of managers from the Sandwell Advice Providers Network meet with the council lead on a regular basis to plan developments in service and respond to changes such as the introduction of Universal Credit. Our most recent achievements include a successful bid to the Controlling Migration Fund for the Settling Well project and a joined-up approach to the delivery of a specialised immigration advice service for residents by supporting advice workers across the network to gain their OISC level 1 / 2 accreditation.
The co-design approach has led to real improvements for residents: joined-up services, better access, high-quality advice and a real commitment to continuous improvement.