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Our Service

Citizens Avice Hounslow provides free, confidential, independent, impartial advice. Our service is open to all, but we particularly support the more vulnerable people in our community.

We operate our services from two main offices, one in the Chiswick Town Hall just off of Chiswick High Road, and the other on the 2nd floor of The Centre on the Feltham High Street, where we answer phone calls to our Adviceline number 0300 330 1185 and see clients during drop-in sessions and by appointment. We also do outreach work at different locations across the borough, as well as home visits. The address of our offices and outreach venues can be found in the Contact us section.

Important Service Update – COVID-19 PREVENTATIVE MEASURES

Please check the Service Updates Page for changes to service delivery, locations and opening hours during Covid-19.

Our Advice Services

CORE Advice Services

Advice services are delivered by our amazing team of staff and 60+ volunteers including Advisers, Initial Assessors, Caseworkers, IT support, Receptionists and Administrators, supported by Supervisors, a Service Delivery Manager and a Head of Services.

Most of our CORE work involves helping residents with welfare benefits, debt and housing cases. We also help with issues encompassing relationship, employment, immigration and consumer law.

Clients can access the service in person, by phone or through digital channels. Since Covid19, drop-in sessions had to be suspended and most of the service was delivered by phone, email and webchat. We also received numerous direct referrals from local organisations with whom we collaborate to better support vulnerable residents.

On their first contact with the service, all clients receive an initial assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to briefly explore the client’s problem and find the best way forward suited to the case and the client’s capacity to take action. Following this, we may give clients information and advice, or we may book an appointment with one of our advisers.

We regularly advocate for those who are vulnerable through physical or mental health issues, language barriers, digital exclusion or other adverse personal circumstances. However, sometimes we may require to signpost or refer to an external organisation better placed to deal with a specific issue or a particular area of the law.

The pandemic has brought millions of households to a crisis point. Our intervention in applying for welfare benefits and challenging Benefits Agencies disputing negative decisions has been a lifeline for many residents in a critical situation. As a result, the demand on our service has increased by 70% since Covid19.

Welfare benefits cases can be very complex and we are proud to be able to offer casework support with tribunal representation. We are also uniquely placed in the borough as the only Debt Relief Order (DROs) Intermediary service, which has transformed people’s lives for the better, relieving them of the pressure and mental stress caused by debt.

The team normally operates from two offices in Chiswick and Feltham as well as outreach locations. However, since Covid19 we have delivered most services remotely and offered a limited face to face appointment service for those unable to engage with in any other way.

Our Projects

EU Settlement Scheme

With this project we have helped EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and their family members to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and continue to access public services in the UK post-Brexit. The project has been operating in the boroughs of Hounslow and Ealing offering practical assistance to vulnerable residents to apply under the scheme for Settled or Pre-settled status.

Universal Credit Help to Claim

The project has been designed to assist residents make a first claim for Universal Credit, from their initial log in details up to when they receive the first payment. The project operates on a multi-channel delivery method: in person (pre-Covid), by phone and webchat. People who need help to claim Universal Credit can call the free national Help to Claim number 0800 144 8 444. Calls are routed to our internal phones and in case we are unable to take a call, we call back the client within 48 hours.

London Community Response

In response to Covid19, this money advice project was created to counter the impact of furlough, redundancy and reduction in incomes. The work encompassed budgeting and debt advice, as well as looking at ways to increase household income through benefits claims, grants and other discretionary payments made available by local authorities and charities during the pandemic.

Trust for London

The project stems from the increased demand for complex welfare rights casework and representation locally. As more people fall ill, become carers or face redundancy in the pandemic, welfare benefits claims have soared, which has resulted in many negative decisions that require a legal challenge from a specialist caseworker, due to complex circumstances linked to immigration status and other benefits issues.

Nationwide

The focus of the project is on homelessness prevention. Rent and mortgage arrears are a main cause of homelessness. As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, more people are at risk of homelessness due to job losses and problems with receiving welfare benefits that can quickly lead to notices of eviction or mortgage repossessions.

Thames Water Debt & Digital Coaching

A debt project funded by Thames Water to support clients in financial difficulty and to assist those who are digitally excluded, targeting specifically some of the most deprived areas in the borough. Our Debt Adviser & Digital Coach offers debt advice, income maximisation including grants applications, welfare benefits claims and practical assistance to access online services and navigate them. This project continues to be highly beneficial to residents, not just because it relieves them from the burden of debt, but also because it empowers them with the necessary skills and the confidence to self-manage in a digital era.

Windrush

Eligible clients are referred to us directly from Citizens Advice for with making a claim for compensation under the government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme.

Help Through Hardship

With the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the livelihoods of many residents, we have contributed to an initiative of Citizens Advice jointly with the Trussell Trust to set up a national helpline to offer foodbank vouchers to people facing an immediate crisis. This is coupled with our vital advice and support to help clients tackle the underlying causes of their crisis and restore some financial stability.

City Bridge Project

Welfare benefits project to provide expertise and support in complex cases, which in recent years has seen a steady increase. The work requires investigating case law and technicalities within social security legislation to formulate solid legal grounds in mandatory reconsiderations and appeals. The caseworker sees clients referred internally on appointment.