What we are doing in Norfolk
The CCS programme is working with the Norfolk County Council to increase awareness of the Norfolk Assistance Scheme. Voluntary sector partners engaged with the programme inclde Norfolk Community Advice Network, Norfolk Citizen's Advice and Community Action Norfolk. More information on funding distributed to local VCS partners is outlined below.
The CCS Programme is working with the Norfolk Community Advice Network (NCAN) to support with the promotion and expansion of their referral system, aiming to increase uptake ang usage across the county. Increasing usage of the referral system should enable quicker and more effective ‘warm referrals’ amongst a larger number of organisations across Norfolk. The system enables organisations to effectively and securely share sensitive information, avoiding the client having to repeat their issue to multiple agencies.
The CCS programme is funding the Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS) to source a Family solicitor for 6 hours a week for 10 months. Since the Covid-19 lockdown, the NCLS has experienced an increase in demand for legal advice relating to domestic violence and other family related matters. The pandemic has also led to new types of issues arising, particularly relating to parents being separated from their children due to isolating or due to serving as key workers.
Norfolk Citizen's Advice (NCA) are delivering two projects with CCS programme funding. The first is a six-month Grant Awareness research project. The research will map local and national grant giving opportunities for those in need of financial assistance. The specially appointed researcher will develop and deliver training for VCS organisations across the county to raise awareness and uptake of opportunities for clients in need. The project includes development and upkeep of a grant database accessible to organisations across Norfolk. The CCS programme is also supporting another NCA research project into reducing digital exclusion. This 1-year project will identify and seek to remove barriers that prevent vulnerable individuals from accessing digital advice and support. Clients taking part on the study will be supplied with an internet ready device and receive intensive support over a period of time to access accredited advice and perform online tasks. The CCS Programme is supporting the research project with funding for a number of digital devices and dongles.
The CCS Programme has partnered with the Smallwood Trust to distribute small grants to financially vulnerable women in all four CCS pilot areas. In Norfolk, funding from the Smallwood Trust has been awarded to Leeway, a charity providing support to victims of domestic abuse.
As a result of the ongoing situation with Covid-19 we have had to change and adapt the plans and timeframes for the programme in the pilot sites. However, in the immediacy we are working in these areas to ensure those who are supporting people facing financial crisis have the help they need:
Since March the Cordinated Community Support Programme has hosted regular video calls with local authority and VCS organizations in each pilot area to establish how the CCS programme can support local responses to Covid-19.
In Norfolk the Local Authority and Voluntary Community Sector partners identified a need to support individuals with No Recourse to Public Funds and black and minority ethnic communities that may be affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The Coordinated Community Support Programme is therefore working with the Norwich Integration Partnership to provide food vouchers, data credit top-ups and fuel top-ups to families and individuals with a BAME backgrounds, such as individuals with No Recourse to Public Funds and asylum seekers.
Year 1 of the pilot
Responding to Covid-19 has obviously dictated CCS programme work in all pilot sites in recent months. September 2020 marked the first year of the pilot in Norfolk, and this felt like an appropriate time to bring local partners together to consider how the next phase of the programme should develop.
The main purpose of the Year 1 Partnership meeting was not to review the previous year but rather to look ahead. This short briefing note was shared with local partners beforehand and the new CCS Norfolk Partnership Charter which sets out the aims local partners are collectively working towards.