City Council invites voluntary organisations to build a brighter future for benefit claimants

Press Release: 30/05/2014

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Winchester City Council is inviting all voluntary and community organisations in the District to a special meeting to discuss the impact of welfare reform on local people.

The event will take place on the afternoon of Thursday 5 June at Winchester Science Centre and is free to attend.

Cllr Rob Humby, the Deputy Leader of Winchester City Council, said:

This is a time of major change for people on benefits, and also for those organisations which provide a great deal of care and support for them and their families. This event is intended to explain what that change will look like for residents of this District and to share ideas about how best to respond. Our aim is to produce a shared action plan as a result of this meeting, which will ensure that no one locally ‘falls through the gaps’.

Jenny Meadows, Chief Executive of the Winchester District Citizen’s Advice Bureau, added:

Voluntary and community organisations work on the front line, in the communities, homes and families of those who will be affected by Welfare Reform. We can all play a part – whether that is providing help with filling in new on-line claim forms, working with long-term jobseekers to secure jobs and training, teaching people to manage their household finances effectively, or dealing with some of the health and domestic worries that may be preventing them from getting on in life.

The Council is one of the largest providers of social housing in the District, and staff are well placed to illustrate the impacts of reform with case studies of local households. The event will also feature examples of initiatives already under way to provide a helping hand, such as a volunteer jobseeker mentoring programme, and an update from JobCentrePlus staff about the current line-up of schemes from the Department of Work and Pensions.

Cllr Humby added:

Bearing in mind how much we value and rely on our voluntary organisations, we also need to be certain that we are providing the right advice and help for them at this time. So I am delighted to be able to use this event to introduce the team from Community First HEH whom we have contracted to run our voluntary sector support service in 2014/15. Tim Houghton and his colleagues will be on hand to discuss funding opportunities, training needs, recruitment and a raft of other issues.

The event is being held at Winchester Science Centre – also an independent charitable trust – to reinforce the ‘brighter future’ message of the agenda. A free, live tour of the galaxy is offered as part of the proceedings, with expert guide Dr Jenny Shipman.

Bookings are now being taken by Tilly Withers at Winchester City Council on 01962 848 129 – twithers@winchester.gov.uk