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 0808 278 7830 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.
We have now reopened our drop-in sessions at our Chiswick and Feltham offices
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 more than doubled since Covid19 and it continues to increase as Hounslow residents are hit by the cost of living crisis. Due to the surge in energy prices and high inflation rates pushing up the cost of food and everyday items, more and more low income households have been seeking our advice and support, as many are facing hardship and more indebtedness.
Welfare benefits cases can be very complex and we are proud to be able to offer our clients full casework support including tribunal representation. We are also uniquely placed in the borough as a 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.
Our team operates from two offices in Chiswick and Feltham as well as various outreach locations across the borough. We are delivering services in person as well as remotely, offering both face-to-face and telephone appointments to better suit our clients’ circumstances.
National Lottery Project
This is a Cost of Living Crisis Project aimed at increasing our capacity to help those in our community most impacted by the rising cost of food, energy and other essential items. Thanks to this project, we can offer additional debt and welfare benefit appointments to help residents through a financial crisis, looking at ways to reduce debt and increase income, for example by claiming welfare benefits and any other available source of financial support.
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.
Henry Smith Project
This money advice project specifically targets people with mental health issues, in recognition of the increasing link between debt and mental health, exacerbated since the pandemic and beyond into the currect cost of living crisis pushing people in debt. work encompasse budgeting and debt advice, as well as looking at ways to increase 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.
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.
GLA Cost of Living Crisis Project
With this project funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA), we carry out crisis preventative work in the boroughs of Hounslow and Ealing to assist particularly vulnerable residents and low income households in the current cost of living crisis, resulting from increased energy costs, shortages of goods and materials and the ongoing consequences from Covid.
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.