Chapeltown CAB

Kate Huthwaite the Learning Disabilities and Difficulties Adviser at Chapeltown Citizens Advice Bureau tells us about the organisation.

Describe your organisation in a paragraph
Chapeltown Citizens Advice Bureau has a central role in tackling injustice, reducing poverty and social exclusion, and enabling people to realise their full potential. Our advice services provide the impetus for local people to understand and realise their rights. By pressing for change in social policy we help many more citizens beyond the community that we serve. At the point of delivery we are providers of free, confidential, independent and impartial advice in multitude of venues, providing advice interviews and specialist case work including representation at tribunals.

What is the background to your organisation?
Chapeltown Citizens Advice Bureau is a registered charity that operates from Willow House, New Roscoe Buildings, Cross Francis Street, Leeds LS7 4BZ.

The advice agency was set up in 1973 and it became a Citizens Advice Bureau in 1975. We are an independent bureau that is part of a network of 338 independent Citizens Advice charities throughout the United Kingdom that give free, confidential information and advice to assist people with money, legal, consumer and many other problems.

In line with all other Citizen’s Advice Bureau has two aims:

  1. To provide the advice people need for the problems they face
  2. To improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives

This is achieved through a research and campaigns agenda known as social policy work.

What services do you provide?
The Learning Disabilities adviser provides information, advice and support covering a range of issues and offers a home visiting service throughout Leeds to people with a learning disability and their carers. The service covers Welfare Benefits (including benefit checks, help with applications, appeals and tribunals), Housing (repairs, rehousing, etc.), Financial Issues (negotiation, disputes, etc.), Employment and Consumer Issues.

The service is independent, impartial and confidential and there is no charge for the provision of information, advice and support. We are available Monday to Friday between 9.00am to 4.30pm. The service is delivered from our office in Chapeltown and home visits are also available upon request.

We also have an Autism Outreach Adviser at the Autism AIM Hub based at Lovell Park every Tuesday between 1.30pm-7pm. They deliver drop in advice sessions during this Tuesday session, and are available for appointments at Chapeltown Citizens Advice Bureau the rest of the week. They are able to do home visits on request when necessary. To book an appointment either drop in to the Autism AIM Hub on a Tuesday, email ian.dooley@chapeltowncab.org.uk or call Chapeltown Citizens Advice Bureau on 0113 2849165.

Who is on the team? (staff and volunteers)

As well as myself in the role of Learning Disabilities and Difficulties Adviser the team includes:

  • Nick Morgan – CEO
  • Sharon Kelly – Advice Service Manager
  • Ian Dooley – Autism Outreach Adviser

We also have a number of volunteers who provide support, advice and assistance to people who require our help

What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job are the clients that I get to assist. I work with some amazing individuals who really appreciate the work that I do with them.

Often when I first visit a client to provide advice, there will be a range of issues that require quite a lot of work over an intensive period. Doing casework like this means I get to know the people I work with and see the developing impact the advice and input has. It is sometimes a little sad to say goodbye to a client that I have done a lot of work with, but on the flip side I know they have made massive progress in terms of health and wellbeing and that they can return again if they have a new issue.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?
It is challenging managing multiple caseloads at the same time and keeping tabs on everyone, especially as people are vulnerable and may not necessarily call you immediately if there is a problem or be able to act independently. I need to be effective at diarising and keeping tabs on individuals to ensure they are fully supported throught the advice process.

If you had a superpower what would it be and why?
I would love the ability to answer all forms of communication within 10 seconds of it arriving and the ability to travel between appointments in the same time! It would also be good to secure an unlimited pot of money to fund services and keep them sustained.

If you could give someone you know an award, who would it be and why would they deserve it?
Many of my clients deserve a medal for their amazing ability to overcome challenges and self-manage despite their difficulties, whilst remaining thankful, upbeat and positive throughout.

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January 2016