Advice in County Durham
"Working Together For You"

News and Events

Network Meeting – October 2016

Another successful Advice in County Durham networking event took place at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on Thursday 13th August 2016.

Once again, we welcomed many new faces to the network and it was great to see so many colleagues taking advantage of the opportunity to share ideas. This event was an opportunity to share information about the services members offer and to hear about the Building Better Opportunities Durham Reaching Out Across Durham project coming online across the county.

Craig Drummond, Partnership Lead at Groundworks NE & Cumbria who are heading up this European funded Durham partnership ROAD project, took us through the structure of the programme and the outcomes it aims to achieve. He discussed the opportunities available and described the clients for whom the programme will be suitable.  He stressed the opportunities to work in partnership to help support individuals ‘who are a long way from the employment market’ to build the confidence, skills and attributes to bring them closer to the workplace and so facilitate progression into education or training, job-search, volunteering or employment (including self-employment). Participants will be supported by ‘Navigators’ to overcome barriers and progress towards work through intensive 1:1 advice, support and encouragement. Participants will be supported in accessing the resources they need in order to see an improvement in their health and wellbeing alongside the building of confidence and skills. 

We also heard from Jessica Arragon (Citizens Advice County Durham, Energy Champion) about the Big Energy Saving Network and the free training on offer for frontline workers and service users. Jess stressed the benefits of supporting clients and colleagues alike to review energy costs as a key ‘tool in the kit’ when attempting to maximise income. She also raised awareness of the forthcoming national campaign ‘Big Energy Saving Week’. Further details are available within the delegate pack. 

Following a very busy structured networking session, three colleagues raised specific awareness of their organisations in our ‘Spotlight On...’ Making Connections section.  Lorraine Jewsbury from Pension Wise. Hugh McShane from Lifeline and Julie Henry from the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA) presented information about their services and organisations detailing the benefits of working in partnership. Lorraine and Hugh outlined how to access their services and Julie informed us of the benefits of joining NAWRA.

Many thanks to all our speakers for their contribution to the excellent flow of information throughout the morning and their contact details can be found within the delegate pack.

Feedback from delegates was great including… “…making links with other organisations is always really useful...presentations a great way to find out about new initiatives and existing services”, “...really useful to find out about training opportunities, the referral portal and which services access...” and “...found it incredibly useful and informative.”

Once again, in order to really benefit from all the information in the room…you really needed to be there. There are other opportunities to meet up and the Network Meeting Schedule is available to download from the website (along with the training schedule).

We did provide some general updates for the network at the meeting, in particular details of the training events for October to December 2016, the referral portal advice agency catalogue and progress towards Advice Week 2017.

To that end, please take a look at the October Network Meeting delegate pack including details of the training events and an updated members list along with copies of the presentations and workshop activity paperwork.

You can contact us at: kate.burrows@cdcab.org.uk / rachel.o'donnell@durham.gov.uk

Network Meeting – June 2016

Another successful Advice in County Durham networking event took place at Durham Town Hall on Thursday 9th June.

It was great to see familiar faces returning to take advantage of the opportunity to share ideas with colleagues and wonderful to welcome many new members.

This event was an opportunity to explore the way in which members can build stronger partnerships through the development of shared practices with an emphasis on measuring the impact access to advice services has on our local communities.

Sam Stimpson of Durham County Carers Support took us through the work they undertake in supporting carers and their families across the county.  She detailed the work they do and shared the ‘Carers Star Assessment’ used to underpin client priority and the measuring of impact throughout the advice and support journey of their clients.

Scott McInally on behalf of DCC Welfare Rights took us through the forthcoming changes to the benefit cap on client groups with a particular focus on those caring for others as this meeting falls within Carers Week.

During our ‘Making Connections Carousel’ we heard about the work of a number of Advice in County Durham Partners and structured discussions on the benefits of working together to help measure the impact of and access to advice. As always, with the aim of building meaningful connections for the benefit of our client groups. We were supported in this discussion by 5 organisations, hosting table discussions. Many thanks to Veronica Lewis & Lynn Belford – Age UK County Durham, Stuart Hudson & Isla Biggs – Durham Christian Partnership (Foodbanks and Durham Money Advice Centre), Sam Stimpson & Carole Gibson – Durham County Carers Support, Jo Walker – DCC Housing Solutions and Fiona Christian – Monkey Project (Furniture, Finance and Fuel); Thanks to all our table hosts…a variety of approaches to the task in hand were evident throughout the morning!

This event also provided an opportunity to hear about the benefits of measuring the impact of access to advice from the perspective of one of the funders/commissioners of advice services across the county.  Scott McInally, Assistant Assessment and Awards Manager at Durham County Council, helped us consider the question of why we should measure impact within the context of DCC funding streams and illustrated how we can measure impact through models used by DCC Welfare Rights to measure the impact of their work.

Feedback from delegates was great including… “…Good overall session once again and interesting group sessions…” and “Like the carousel…getting a better understanding of how we can use the portal each time we come…”

Once again, in order to really benefit from all the information in the room…you really needed to be there. There are other opportunities to meet up and the Network Meeting Schedule is available to download from the website (along with the training schedule).

We did provide some general updates for the network at the meeting, in particular details of the training events for June to September 2016, a request to take part in the ‘Advice Events’ working party and a request to provide feedback on the ‘Information Management Survey’.

We are still looking for members to contribute to a partnership approach to another ‘Advice Week’ or Advice in County Durham advice event/s.  If you are interested in getting involved, all you need to do is get in touch. Also, we have had some great response to our information management survey (thank you very much…) but there is still time to contribute… https://eSurv.org?s=LCDKFI_1791f5d1.

To that end, please take a look at the June Network Meeting delegate pack including details of the training events and an updated members list along with copies of the presentations and workshop activity paperwork. 

You can contact us at kate.burrows@cdcab.org.uk / rachel.o’donnell@durham.gov.uk.

Network Meeting – April 2016

Another successful Advice in County Durham networking event took place at The Work Place, Aycliffe Business Park on Thursday 14th April.

It was great to see familiar faces returning to take advantage of the opportunity to share ideas with colleagues and wonderful to welcome many new members.

This event was an opportunity to explore the impact of access to timely advice on the health and wellbeing of our communities. Tim Wright (DCC Public Health Portfolio Lead) and Carol Gaskgarth (CEO, Pioneering Care Partnership) helped us explore the landscape of advice across County Durham under the ‘Health and Wellbeing’ theme.

We heard about the advice and support services available throughout the county (with a particular reference to services delivered by members) and shared information on how we can make firm connections in order to improve access to advice services for our client groups. We were supported in this discussion by 5 organisations, hosting table discussions. Many thanks to Roseann Szomoru – Alzheimer’s Society, Dawn Kirsopp – Health Advice Service Projects Citizens Advice County Durham, Chris Graham and Joanne Benson – Macmillan Welfare Rights and Macmillan Cancer Information Services, Claire Todd – Pioneering Care Partnership and Julie Form – Wellbeing for Life Service; Thanks to all our table hosts…voices may have been lost by the end of the session!

Chris Graham (DCC Welfare Rights) and Sam Scotchbrook (Citizens Advice County Durham) helped us to begin to consider how we can make better use of the referral portal. Through case study and illustration of a very successful referral relationship using the referral portal they demonstrated how building meaningful connections in this way can benefit our client groups.

Feedback from delegates was fantastic including… “…table talks great for networking opportunities for further partner working…” and “Good opportunity to network and find out more about what other organisations are doing…”

Once again, in order to really benefit from all the information in the room…you really needed to be there…but don’t panic…there are other opportunities to meet up and the Network Meeting Schedule is available to download from the website (along with the training schedule).

We did provide some general updates for the network at the meeting, in particular details of the training events for April to June 2016 and a request to take part in an ‘Advice Events’ working party…We are looking for members to contribute to a partnership approach to another ‘Advice Week’ or Advice in County Durham advice event/s. If you are interested in getting involved, all you need to do is get in touch.

To that end, please take a look at the April Network Meeting delegate pack including details of the training events and an updated members list along with copies of the presentations and workshop activity paperwork.

Advice Week 15th – 19th February 2016

Following discussion from November’s membership meeting Advice in County Durham arranged an Advice Week highlighting the work our members do. With help from the network we were able to promote 55 different advice sessions being hosted throughout the week. Take a look at how it went

  • 1732 people given advice!
  • A potential of £107,994.00 in extra income for clients!
  • 687 people supported with housing benefit and council tax reduction!
  • 24 people supported with energy advice!
  • 586 new clients approached Citizens Advice for support!
  • Over 20 different types of advice provided!

This is just a drop in the ocean of the advice in circulation throughout the county every week. When we think of what collectively all network members achieve each week the difference which can be made to the community is massive.

This information is based on feedback from just a snapshot of the week from a handful of members;

A big thank you to Cestria, Citizens Advice County Durham, Durham County Carers Support, DCC Customer Access Points, DCC Welfare Rights, Durham Christian Partnership, East Durham Trust, Durham Money Advice Centre and SHAID.

Take a look at the attachment for more information on how the week went.

Network Meeting – February 2016

Networking works! We are developing stronger connections and building on the important work we already do.

As many of you are aware we held our first bi monthly network meeting on Thursday 11th February at Durham Leadership Centre.

This event was an opportunity to share information about the services network members offer and hear about the Energy Advice available throughout the county (with a particular reference to services delivered by members).

In response to the call from you to “get to know what advice offer is out there and what the other network members actually do”, the focus of this event was on sharing information about ‘who we are and what we do’ in the form of a ‘speed dating’ activity. This went down really well with the delegates and ‘early coffee’ was required to ensure voices weren’t lost or damaged!! The buzz in the room was tremendous and with real, practical connections being made that will foster partnership work and further support the advice needs of our local communities.

Feedback from delegates was fantastic including… “A very worthwhile morning - exceeded my expectations” and “More events like this please!”

In order to really benefit from all the information in the room…you really needed to be there…but don’t panic…there are other opportunities to meet up and the Network Meeting Schedule is now available to download from the website (along with the training schedule).

We did provide some general updates for the network at the meeting and in particular details of the next training event in March. To that end, please take a look at the February Network Meeting delegate pack including details of the March Training event and an updated members list along with copies of the presentations and workshop activity paperwork.

Advice in County Durham Network Meetings

A schedule of Network Meetings has been set up for the year. Details about venue and topic will be circulated throughout the year. You can download a schedule here.

Advice in County Durham Training Events

Under the banner of 'Advice in County Durham' and in the spirit of working in partnership, Citizens Advice County Durham and DCC Welfare Rights will be working together to provide training opportunities throughout 2016.

The venue for these events will be Armstrong House, Abbeywoods Business Park, Durham, DH1 5GH. Training sessions start at 09:30 and end times vary depending on the nature of the course. You can download the training schedule here.

Membership Congress 2015

As many of you are aware we held our first Membership Congress event on Thursday 26th November at Durham Leadership Centre. This event was an opportunity for network members to find out about the next phase for the partnership, planned partnership activity for 2016 and opportunities for further network member involvement. Also, the training teams from Durham Welfare Rights and Citizens Advice County Durham delivered some ‘taster’ training.

It was a very successful, full of ‘buzz’ and energy. All activities generated much positive discussion; delegates reflected on the fact that we often ‘don’t know, what we don’t know’! They were glad of the opportunity to share information and look to a future of greater intelligence sharing.

The prospect of gaining access to training and taking time to ‘network’ through a schedule of events was welcomed and network members were enthusiastic about the prospect of working in partnership to better serve the needs of our communities.

A great deal of information was presented at the Membership Congress and in particular some firm ‘dates for your diary’ for 2016. To that end, please take a look at the Membership Congress delegate pack including training and network meeting schedules along with copies of the presentations and workshop activity paperwork.

Partnership Launch

The launch of the Advice in County Durham Partnership was held on 17th June at The Glebe Centre, Murton.

Article featured in the Northern Echo