Accessing advice just as it is needed most

Citizens Advice Hart is leading a two-year project called ‘Hart Access to Advice’ which will focus on improving peoples’ access to information and advice. It is developing new communications channels to engage with vulnerable people. With public service reform, cuts to legal aid, changes to the state pension age and the new pension rules, not to mention increasing levels of debt, demand for advice services has gone through the roof. The project includes a new website giving Hart residents direct access to sources of advice and information; self help information kiosks across the district; an IT learning suite to help with claims, applications and searches, and the launch of an “Access to Advice” survey.

Hart Access to Advice is an innovative initiative funded by the Big Lottery Fund, which has sought to adapt to the changes in advice service provisions and puts the residents of Hart at its centre by improving people’s access to the advice they need, when they need it, both online and throughout Hart District.

Citizens Advice CEO, Gillian Guy

Citizens Advice CEO, Gillian Guy

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy said: “By supporting people at the very beginning of a problem, we help them to help themselves and save the state £8 for every £2 invested in advice.”

Ouida Grant (Right) with Citizen Advice Hart's Ailsa Kempthorne, and volunteer Luke Buckland in the IT Suite.

Ouida Grant (Right) with Citizen Advice Hart’s Ailsa Kempthorne, and volunteer Luke Buckland in the IT Suite.

Ouida Grant, Project Manager and CEO of Citizens Advice Hart said: “We are proud of our achievements to date and in particular the Hart Access to Advice website which has been designed with the residents of Hart in mind.”

Hart Access to Advice is a joint initiative between Citizens Advice Hart District, Hart Voluntary Action, Action for Children (who run the Hart Children’s Centre) and Inclusion Hampshire and brings together a number of innovations including: –

HartAcessToAdvice

* A new website hartaccesstoadvice.org.uk which provides an up to date directory of local community services related to health, social care, transport and education, signposting specific sources of advice and information.

* A series of Self Help Information Kiosks ensuring greater accessibility to information for those residents living in more rural areas of Hart. Kiosks can be found at St Barnabas’ Church Blackwater, Hart Volunteer Centre Fleet, Parish Council offices at Hartley Wintney with further kiosks being placed in Church Crookham, Elvetham Heath, Hook and Odiham in coming months.

* Launch of the Access to Advice Survey which presents a tremendous opportunity to gain a better understanding of the Hart community and to identify how, from increasingly limited resources, we can make sure effective advice and information services are available to those that need them. It will also explore the potential for alternative ways of delivering advice and information services. The survey can be accessed either online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NXF776P or in person, at the Volunteer Centre in Hart Shopping Centre and the offices of Hart Citizens Advice.

* Creation of an IT learning suite at the Yateley offices of Citizens Advice Hart District which will support online job searches and applications and benefit claim administration thereby assisting vulnerable people who may have been socially isolated.

Caroline Winchurch, CEO of Hart Voluntary Action said “We are very pleased to be involved with the Hart Access to Advice project as a partner organisation and to be able to host one of the touch screen kiosks at our Volunteer Centre in Hart Shopping Centre.  We will be encouraging visitors to use the kiosk to find out about current volunteering opportunities as well as to check out latest guidance from Citizens Advice and others”

It would be great if you could fill in the survey, and spread the word about it – as well as make sure that as many people know about the wider range of ways that the people of Hart can now access advice for Citizens Advice Hart District in addition to our two offices in Fleet and Yateley.

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