Advice and advocacy – an integrated approach
Trust outreach programme manager Amy will be sharing her experience of being on the frontline of the cost-of-living crisis as the British Gas Energy Trust funded British Gas Post Office Pop-Ups tour Britain between now and March 2024.
Since a successful pilot in May 2022, the Pop-Ups have offered in person money and energy advice to people at more than 120 events across Great Britain. At the pop-ups, Trust funded money and energy advisers offer one-to-one advice and signpost further support options.
The Pop-Ups are also a fantastic chance for the Trust to learn from its funded organisations around England, Wales and Scotland. This week, we share valuable insights from Money Matters, a Glasgow-based charity who have been providing a range of advice services since 1990. Central to the success of their work in meeting client needs is a holistic approach, utilising both advice and advocacy to provide truly wraparound support.
Advocates work with people to support and empower them to make decisions and engage with services they need; this could be by helping them to attend appointments, fill out forms or ensuring clients understand the information they receive. Advocacy is distinct from advice provision which is more formal and can only be provided by qualified advisors.
At Money Matters, they have an in-house advocate who works closely with the advisors in an integrated manner; this helps to address problems before they spiral out of control. For example, an advocate may help a client attend an appointment, so they don’t lose access to their benefits and must attend a tribunal. Although they cannot themselves provide advice, advocates can flag up internally when they spot that a client needs advice and can alert the relevant advisor. This results in clients getting the help they need more quickly, efficiently and without having to repeat their story to multiple organisations.
Engaging with advice provision can itself be an intimidating and challenging process, particularly for advice concerning debt. Integrated advocacy can act as a source of emotional support for clients and help empower them to get the most out of the time with advisors, which is valuable and often in high demand. People can often spend a lot of time “bouncing” between services via signposting and can become stuck in a loop; advocacy can help people take the action they need to escape the loop and access the right support.
This integrated approach has helped Money Matters become a trusted source of information and support for people in Glasgow; BGET is proud to work closely with them to widen their reach via the British Gas Post Office Pop-Ups in October and November 2023.
For more information about the pop-up events, please click here.
For more information about money and energy advice available in your area, please click here.