What is The Welcome Centre Advice, Guidance and Support service all about?
You will have seen over the last 12 months, that our Advice, Guidance and Support Service otherwise known as AGS has grown quickly and supported more people than ever. But what do you know about our service and how valuable it has become?
Here's an update on some of the fantastic work that our team Kerry, Charlie and Duncan supported by 15 AGS volunteers have been up to so far this year.
Although the provision of food has been and always will be our primary focus and purpose, we realised some years ago that just providing food was simply a sticking plaster, sending people on their way with no real solution to the problems they were facing. Our AGS service has been part of The Welcome Centre for about 6 years, however, now it is proving to be just as valuable as the food we provide to those clients in long-term poverty and severe financial crisis.
So what is AGS?
Our Advice, Guidance and Support service covers a multitude of things from meeting and greeting our clients, offering them a basic triage service to understand their current crisis, providing leaflets or signposting, right through to more tailored 1-2-1 budgeting support. And it’s not just the clients who collect their parcels who receive this support, we make welfare calls to our clients who receive a delivery, offering additional services that may help them too.
In March, we spoke with 329 clients offering access to one or more of our advice services.
Another aspect of our Advice Guidance and Support service is our Client Grants programme, providing access to small client grants for essential items such as washing machines, beds, clothing or essential documents such as a passport. Funds for this were raised through our Aviva match funding campaign as well as grants from One Community Foundation, B&Q and ACTS 435.
Since January 2023, we’ve completed 76 grant applications.
The AGS team run our Fuel Bank programme too. So far this year, we’ve provided 67 one-off fuel vouchers or have cleared existing fuel debts for clients who are unable to heat their homes due to a lack of funds. The funding for this was raised through our Christmas Big Give Challenge.
Our most recent addition to this service has been our Digital Inclusion. We’ve worked with Vodafone to access thousands of free sim cards with 6 months of free data and texts and we’ve launched our used smartphone appeal too. This means we can take any smartphones no longer needed and pass them on with a sim card to clients in need. It’s amazing how little you can do without access to the internet these days, from job searching and applications to banking and applying for schools.
We’ve provided 113 free sim cards so far this year.
As the cost of living crisis continues to drive demand for our service up, then the need for our wrap-around support and additional services will be higher than ever before.
Thanks for supporting The Welcome Centre and the work that we do.