Airdrie Citizens Advice Bureau
Charity registered in Scotland SC012238
Airdrie CAB has been serving communities in Airdrie and surrounding areas since November 1971. We provide independent, impartial, free and confidential services, offering advice communities’ need for issues faced in their daily lives: money and debt advice, welfare rights, housing and many more. Specialist projects compliment generalist services, including qualified legal advice and representation at Tribunals, Sheriff Court and Court of Session. We actively seek to provide a voice to our communities and address areas of injustice through social policy work; working in partnership with local, regional and national organisations. Volunteers are pivotal to our operations – allowing representation of our communities and providing them valuable skills. Getting the right advice at the right time makes a significant impact; helping prevent homelessness, bankruptcy and unemployment, poor mental health - disastrous outcomes for individuals and their families; expensive for the public purse. Last year, we assisted 4916 individuals with 26,609 issues.
- From 16 October 2017 to 31 October 2018
- Award: £9,991 via Call 5
- Data published on 360Giving
With the development of ‘digital by default’ systems e.g. universal credit, digital capability has never been more important to tackle poverty, isolation and disadvantage facing communities. ‘Beyond the Screen’ aims to make the large and expansive digital world seem that much smaller – increasing confidence and knowledge of frontline workers to support the community in their digital needs and equip the community themselves with skills to use and enjoy all that the world-wide-web has to offer.
IT suites within the bureau and in partnership with Airdrie Library will have a dedicated Adviser with access to PC, Laptop, tablet and mobile phone to provide one-to-one support. Using SCVO Digital Charter online resources, clients will be supported and assisted in using digital mediums to apply for welfare benefit applications, carry out web searches, open and maintain email accounts, understand safe browsing and basic MS Office packages. Individuals will be made aware of advantage of Apps and their ease of use in travelling, managing budgets and accessing information.
Front-line workers will receive support, ensuring they are up-to-date with digital developments and confident in directing communities to maximise use of them. Volunteers, being at the heart of our services, will support the project at every stage - improving our communities’ digital presence and participation.
Preliminary steps to begin project delivery are achieved through set up of equipment, IT suite, publicity material acknowledging grant and monitoring systems successfully adapted. Volunteers recruited to support project and become digital champions.
150 people and 80 front-line workers provided support and training to build digital knowledge/skills in practical application. Communities empowered to direct and navigate digital technology for self-supported help: improving financial circumstances.
150 people supported to build digital skills to identify local services, communicate electronically and maximise use of social mediums to engage and maintain social interaction. Communities gain self-esteem and confidence reducing social isolation.
75 people supported to build digital skills improving ability to carry out job searches and opportunities to further develop skills. Communities gain confidence to take steps, moving onto further education/employability support and paid employment.
We have continued to make progress in assisting communities build their digital skills through issues presenting their daily lives.
Questionnaires and first sessions with communities have allowed us to assess digital skills, areas of development based on interest and needs together with most commonly used mediums to access digital mediums.
Group sessions have been well received with community groups particularly with the full roll out of Universal Credit with a number of groups interested in understanding the impact, process for application and managing their UC journal. Financial management, energy issues and appropriate Apps to manage these have also been popular issues in the group sessions. We have also found engaging discussions within the groups have provided opportunities for answering common questions and increase in confidence to explore online resources.
Outreach sessions on Monday and Tuesday at Airdrie Library are continuing fortnightly with NL Libraries assisting with promotion and an increasing number of people seeking assistance through word of mouth referrals.
Alongside above we continue to deliver one to one advice sessions continue to be delivered on a weekly basis with a large number of queries relating to assistance with navigating website, understanding different features including setting up notifications, email accounts, online form completion and uploading documents and using Apps.
The project has continued to build on the foundations laid and reported in previous reports by assisting people build their digital skills through issues they face in their daily lives.
We have found engaging discussions and building a rapport with individuals are also an important tool to establishing their digital skills as oppose to relying solely on completing questionnaires which sometimes are not received with welcome.
Outreach at Airdrie Library has allowed us to develop a local presence which has been well received by the Library Staff and those attending the Library. Our regular attendance has also meant that there has been an increased awareness and word of mouth referrals.
One to one advice has been found to be a crucial element of service delivery. People finding it more comfortable to admit to lack of digital skills particularly for individuals whose personal and professional lives have not resulted in exposure to using PCs and other digital mediums.
Beyond the Screen project has had a great start in assisting our communities recognise the benefits of building digital skills in dealing with day to day issues. Initial preliminary work included setting up equipment and ensuring IT suite was fully functional with Wi-Fi access.
An additional feature under specialist projects highlighted the Beyond the Screen Project and publicity was shared. Our volunteers are coming on board and we are delighted to have recruited two digital champions supporting the project.
We developed a baseline survey to capture digital skills adapting questionnaires prepared by SCVO Digital Team and a survey developed by Citizens Advice Scotland. These two surveys allowed us to make effective use of already well used resources.
We have successfully delivered group sessions to community groups supported by front line workers on the benefits digital mediums can have from making savings on energy costs to money management.
Our weekly advice sessions are set up and we are regularly supporting communities to build an awareness of how digital mediums can be best applied to resolve their queries and supporting them to build and apply digital skills.
We have set up surgeries in Airdrie Library twice a week every fortnightly.
With Universal Credit Full roll out being applied from April 2018, we have also raised awareness of digital support for individuals as the UC application are completely online processes.
With development of 'digital by default' systems such as universal credit, and many services moving to online services, digital capability has never been more important to tackle poverty, isolation and disadvantage facing communities. Beyond the Screen project aimed to make the large and expansive digital world seem that much smaller – increasing confidence of communities with skills to use and enjoy all the world-wide-web has to offer. We introduced communities to practical digital applications from applying for welfare benefits to carrying out web searches, understanding safe browsing and taking advantage of Apps and their ease of uses in a range of matters from travelling to managing budgets, accessing information and simply keeping in touch with families. We committed to ensure front line workers within our partner organisations are aware of up to date digital developments and were confident in directing communities to maximise use of them. After the initial set up stage and assessing digital skills through surveys, we were able to highlight and have more of an understanding of areas and demographics who were most in need of up-skilling in digital mediums. Along side our workshops and events in community settings we continued with the one - to - one advice - sessions which were delivered on a weekly basis with a large number of queries relating to assistance with navigating website, understanding different features including setting up notifications, email accounts, online form completion and uploading documents and using Apps. Beyond the Screen project assisted our communities recognise the benefits of building digital skills in dealing with day to day issues. Initial preliminary work included setting up equipment and ensuring IT suite was fully functional with Wi-Fi access. Further more the Project team along with our Digital Champions were equipped with the necessary equipment at outreach settings to ensure inclusion in all locations. Our Results: In 12 months our team achieved a combination of 22 workshops and events. A total of 464 people were reached between the above and outreach settings: This is broken down as 32 frontline workers and 432 individuals. In addition we carried out 148 face to face appointments with a Client Financial Gain (CFG) of £37,806.98. The CFG's have been via benefit entitlements with Universal Credit ,Kinship Care allowance, Child benefit, Tax rebates, SDP's, Carers allowance/guardian allowance. Furthermore our project team trained 7 Digital Champions in the Bureau, to allow for Best practice to be shared, for knowledge to be passed on to volunteers and paid staff who are working in the community. It also allows for development within the work force and for empowerment. The Digital Champions ensure sustained knowledge that can be filtered to the community and other organisations. Being present in Airdrie library and building rapports with clients have been key to success of this project and we have been able to continue this learning and model in our Tech Your Finance project, offering specialist digital money advice and support to help harness digital skills.