Lozells Methodist Community Centre, Birmingham Methodist Circuit

The grant is to support and develop the provision of Benefit Advice at a Community Resource Centre in the Circuit. Lozells Community Resource Centre has been granted 5 years funding (total £50,000) by MAP 2015 - 2020. On receiving that funding to support the general work of the Centre we were told that we could apply as well for funding for a specific Project within the Centre. In November 2015 several things happened. First, we were approached by an organisation in Birmingham who were running out of funds to see if we would be able to use and pay for the Benefit Advisor they used for 1 day a week. Second, an organisation which provided benefit advice in Lozells had lost their funding and had recently closed. Third, we were engaging with an increasing number of people through our weekly Job Club and through enquiries at our Reception from people who needed Benefit Advice and we had now nowhere in the locality to signpost them to. We were also aware that people found it difficult to go from one place to another and have trust in 'authority' figures.

In December 2015 we decided to invite the Benefit Advisor to come on a Tuesday and work alongside the Job Club. By Spring 2016 he was starting to come in on a Wednesday as well because of the number of people who needed his support and advice. He was also accompanying them to Tribunals etc. We recognised then that part of his role could be to help to train a member of staff and job club volunteers so that they could help with his workload under his supervision. We were able to get 6 months of grant funding from Near Neighbours to contribute towards an increased fee and additional time so that he could also do that training. This has been from September 2016 until the end of February 2017.

Grant awarded £32,297

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