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Support, advice and long-term solutions

Help through crisis continues to develop through the support of previous clients and volunteers

Identifying a need for the project

The third largest London borough in population, Ealing is hugely diverse. 51% of residents have non-white ethnic backgrounds (2011 Census).

It is in both the top four London boroughs for poverty, unemployment; and in the top eight for landlord repossessions, homeless acceptances and low pay (2015 London Poverty Profile).

Help Through Crisis

Help Through Crisis Ealing is a four-year project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund that began in July 2016. Now in its third year, it’s a partnership between Ealing CVS, West London Equality Council, Ealing Foodbank, Ealing Law Centre, Ealing Mencap & Mind in Ealing and Hounslow.

The project aims to identify and support those in food crisis, or those facing eviction or housing re-possession. Clients are identified at food bank sites across Ealing and at Brentford County Court and given immediate assistance as well as advice and support to achieve long-term behaviour changes.

Identifying clients and addressing immediate issues

The focus of the support is to look at the issues people face, and the underlying causes. From their basic needs, to their physical and mental health, to skills and employment. People are supported to develop their own personal resilience, so they are ready to make the most of future opportunities as well as being able to deal with the challenges ahead.

To accomplish this, Crisis Navigators (advisors) identify clients that could benefit from the project and begin by helping clients to resolve any initial crisis issues. These are usually related to financial problems, most commonly with housing benefits and personal debt.

“I really appreciate the support and time given to me by Nesar (Crisis Navigator). I also appreciate how genuine and caring he was. He spent a lot of time with me and made a lot of effort to resolve my situation. I would not have been able to do it without him. I will always be grateful for the support I received from him”.

Individual Development Plans

Once these issues have been addressed, the Crisis Navigator and Support Workers start to develop a bespoke plan of support with the client to help them access a wide range of support to ensure they don’t find themselves in crisis again in the future.

This could mean counselling, skills training or preparing for employment again once their position is stable.  Each plan is tailored to the individual and there is a wide range of support that the Crisis Navigators and Support Works can offer their client access.

Personal support

Crisis Navigators and Volunteer Support Workers mentor and coach clients – using the “Five Ways to Wellbeing” framework as a personal action planning tool.  The elements shaping personal action plans are: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.

The five elements shaping personal action plans

Five Ways to Wellbeing

The Help Through Crisis team motivate and support clients to devise and implement their own solutions and self-sustaining networks, supplemented through peer-to-peer support. The project partners together identify clients who already have successful outcomes, to help motivate others emerging from crisis, to work towards stability.

“The level of support was phenomenal and I could not have got through these few months without this level of compassion, interest and expertise from Omar and his colleagues – they were all so warm, understanding and friendly I would love to give back at some stage too. I am very grateful”.

Learning to share

  • Across all clients, that the project engaged with, there were clear Issues of self-esteem. Addressing this first, providing encouragement and being clear that support needs to be holistic in order to be effective.
  • Trello was invaluable as a project management tool to help co-ordinate and share information across the different locations, partner organisations, advice workers and volunteers.
  • Evaluation is a key part of the project and to begin with the evaluation feedback was mainly from clients who found it easier to speak in group situations. The project manager has tailored evaluation meetings to now take place in venues such as cafes and in smaller groups, so that individuals feel more comfortable speaking up

Challenges faced

There has been a large increase in the use of food banks across Ealing, for example when comparing September 2017 to September 2018, there was a 400% increase in clients at one particular food bank in Ealing.  This was mainly due to the introduction of Universal Credit and the Housing Allowance benefit cap.

The Partner Organisations:

Ealing Community and Voluntary Service (lead partner)

Project management, sub-contracting, monitoring and evaluation, policies, protocols and procedures, development of peer to peer and life skills programme and recruitment and training of volunteers.

Ealing Law Centre

Liaison with court duty solicitor service, intervention to alleviate crisis, support to stabilise clients’ circumstances and coaching, mentoring and life skills development.

Ealing Foodbank

Provision of emergency food and signposting/referrals.

West London Equality Council

Intervention to alleviate crisis, support to stabilise clients’ circumstances and coaching, mentoring and life skills development.

MIND (Ealing & Hounslow)

Intervention to alleviate crisis, support to stabilise clients’ circumstances and coaching, mentoring and life skills development.

More like this

London Plus’s goal is to amplify the voice of civil society and shine a light on some of the amazing projects happening across London. One way we are doing this is by publishing case studies on our website, take a look at some of the previous case studies we have posted.