Welfare support centre sees attendance soar
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Finance
A Westminster community centre has seen the amount of residents approaching it for advice and support on welfare reforms double since the start of the year.
Beethoven Centre’s weekly advice sessions are currently attracting up to 80 people each week, with the majority of enquiries focusing on the impact of housing benefit caps and request for support for getting into employment and training.
Located in Queens Park, one of the country’s most deprived wards in terms of child poverty and life expectancy, the centre is run by housing association A2Dominion.
In the last year (2012/13), the centre has:
• Seen a record-breaking 34,000 visits;
• Helped put £567,000 put back into the pockets of residents - for example, through accessing support they were entitled to and claiming back money owed;
• Residents were also given help to reduce their debts by a total of £136,763.
Bassam Mahfouz, centre manager, said: “With the welfare reform changes coming into effect, we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of residents seeking out advice on housing-related issues, especially with regards to how they may be affected by housing benefit caps.
“Our innovative Advice Plus service offers information and help on benefits, housing, debt, health, employment, education and much more.
“By bringing multiple agencies together, we can provide residents with the help they need under one roof and make accessing relevant information as straightforward as possible.”