Experience I have over 10 years’ experience working as a community development worker in Liverpool. All the projects I have been part of have involved working with vulnerable people with complex needs (including drugs, alcohol, and mental health) with the aim of successfully moving them onto more independent living. As a Lone Parent Advisor at Sencia I supported single parents back into employment and training. I worked with the local community in the planning and delivery process to set up structured training workshops in CV, interview techniques, budgeting, welfare benefits, training/employment choices, social skills and networking. In my last role as Positive Communities Training and Support Worker, I worked with over fifty-fives to help improve their lives through various projects to do with health, training and community cohesion. I have a passion for community work and have the knowledge, experience and humility, to support clients through challenging times.
Working with tenants Due to the hands on nature and flexibility of the project, I feel New Direction can offer a service that fits round our client’s needs. We offer face to face advice and guidance in an environment that suits the client. We aim to deal with all the clients’ financial issues over a number of appointments and take a holistic view, helping them achieve financial independence in the future.
Successful Outcomes I have assisted many individuals who have been affected by recent government changes, including the introduction of the Bedroom Tax. I work with these clients by putting together household budgets, with the aim of maximising their income. I help them make savings through using online comparison sites, to find the best deals for energy, mobile phones and insurance. I have worked closely with other teams at the CAB, including The Debt Team and Housing so that clients get relevant support when they need it.
Before working on the New Direction project I worked as a customer service advisor in a call centre for a Bank. As part of the service I helped customers make decisions relating to budgeting and credit. This helped me understand how to help our clients organise their budgets and help them make the choices which are best for them. I also worked in Secondary Schools as a teacher of ICT. Our clients often need to use technology to apply for Benefits, satisfy the requirements of a JSA claim by updating an online Universal Job match account as well as manage their finances. My background allows me to help them use computers effectively.
Working with tenants
The project is going from strength to strength with a growing reputation for helping social housing tenants organise and get control of their finances. Our approach is friendly, supportive and tailored to the needs of the individual rather ‘one size fits all’. We can help apply for grants, open basic bank accounts in response to Welfare Reform, organise payment plans for bills or find the best deals for a range of financial services and products. If we cannot help we find someone who can. Since the start of the project we have gained extensive knowledge of local agencies and services and can refer our clients to get the help they need.
I have helped clients put payment plans in place to pay priority bills so they know exactly how much money they have to spend each week. Many clients face barriers preventing them from opening a bank account and I have helped clients open and administer a bank account for the first time. This gives them the freedom to pay bills by direct debit or over the phone and shop using a debit card. I have successfully applied for grants to clear utility arrears for many clients, freeing up money from a tight budget. New tenants leaving hostels or other crisis situations are often without essential household items and I have helped them apply to the Citizens Support Scheme for household goods. One thing that has made a real difference is a starter package which includes a bed, sofa, cooker, fridge freezer, washing machine as well as kitchen items such as kettle, toaster, microwave, posts and pans and utensils. Having the basics in place gives tenants the best possible start.
Experience: My name is Joanne Gawthorne and I am one of the New Direction workers. I have worked for North Liverpool Citizens Advice for the past eight years and have gained considerable experience in dealing with people’s money and helping to empower them to take control of their finances. I have, in the past worked for the Bureau as a Welfare Rights Adviser which gave me the skills and knowledge to advise tenants on their full entitlement to benefits and other grants or funds available. I have also worked as a debt and income maximisation worker which has enabled me to understand financial issues that tenants face and more importantly how to resolve them.
Working with tenants: New Direction works extremely well for tenants as we can offer a range of appointments, such as home visits, office based or outreach. The flexibility of New Direction provides a holistic, hands on approach as the service not only provides information and advice, the workers can actually take a tenant through the sometimes maze of completing the action, such as opening a bank account or taking a tenant to their local shop to explain how chip and pin works. New Direction stands alone in this approach as it bridges the gap between advice and support work.
Successful Outcomes: During my time working for New Direction I have successfully empowered clients to take control of their finances and gave them the skills to complete any future actions with confidence. I have as part of my role completed many comparisons for utilities, applied for grants and trust funds to ease financial pressure and allow tenants to focus on their priority expenditure. I advise on benefit entitlement to ensure income maximisation and always discuss future changes to the welfare system that could have a future impact on their budgeting skills. I feel New Direction is invaluable to tenants in the current climate and many could have faced losing their home without our intervention.
Experience: Prior to working on this project I worked for a charity called Home-Start offering practical and emotional support to young families in their home. Some of the support offered would include helping clients to budget and accompany clients on various appointments. Prior to this I worked in a finance department for a large manufacturing company and my work included purchase ledger, cash control and payroll.
Working with tenants: New Direction project is proving to be very successful with the clients and I feel this is mainly due to the time we can offer, as our support can be offered over a series of visits in their own home. This I believe has helped us to form good working relationships with the tenant as they feel more at ease in our presence and more likely to accept the help offered to them.
Successful outcomes: Helping tenants to open bank accounts and setting up payment plans. This has helped to reduce stress for many, knowing they have their finances in order. Creating budgets and identifying areas tenants could potentially save money and maximise their income.
Experience I have worked in CABs for several years, first volunteering and then working as a Money Adviser for the Money Advice service within a CAB. I helped CAB clients deal with many financial issues including budgeting, welfare benefits, debt, savings, credit, and pensions.
Working with tenants I worked with many social tenants as a Money Adviser. The New Direction project has allowed me to take the advice I gave and help clients act on it, taking practical steps to deal with financial issues. I help tenants understand options available to them and give them the information and support them need to make an informed choice. I help to set up bank accounts, direct debits, shop around for best deals with fuel, shopping, tv and internet and mobile phone packages as well as making sure they have access to the right specialist advice.
Successful Outcomes Recently, a client came to me with serious debt issues and didn’t know which way to turn. We went through all income and outgoings and after completing a benefit check discovered that they were entitled to further benefits. I helped the client to make the claim and an appointment was made to see a debt specialist. The benefit claim was successful which meant the client had more money and the debts have become manageable after working with the specialist. I am now helping client with budgeting and shopping around for better deals with fuel and mobile phone packages.