Advice Project

Firvale Community Hub

Advice & information services: Supporting welfare rights, immigration, consumer, housing, Audited by OISC and AQS in line with the national CAB Standards.

Advocacy service: conducting home visits and outreach sessions, volunteering opportunities offering training and work experience, information on council services, advertising for local community organisations and elders project.

 

Translation and Interpretation services

Firval Community Hub's Advice Project has continued to see an increase in the number of cases relating to the economic climate creating a higher demand for intensive services, unfortunately alongside a background of cuts as a result of reduced council funding. This means we are delivering greater services with fewer resources.

The main enquiry types that were presented are:

  • Welfare benefits

  • Immigration

  • Housing

  • Debt

  • Consumer and utilities

  • Employment

All the above categories with the exception of immigration can to an extent be argued to be related to the economic climate, although we have always had large numbers of users accessing the service among these categories. However, the types of cases in the different categories have changed – we are seeing higher numbers of Job Seekers Allowance applicants, higher numbers of appeals and tribunals.

 

We continue to gain better diversity amongst our clients, with larger numbers of white British service users than ever before. This demonstrates our commitment to providing services for the whole community to benefit from, and further strengthens and consolidates our position as a neighbourhood centre.

We have adopted new working practices to ensure a streamlined service, with lower waiting times for clients and more efficiency for staff. This includes a triage system, whereby simple cases are dealt with very quickly, and clients who do not have all the required documentation for their case to be dealt with at a single visit are given a checklist, to enable them to return and have their case dealt with as quickly as possible, and to prevent people waiting needlessly. This has worked extremely well and feedback from clients has been very positive.

Our specialist services continue to operate, including the EU migrants advice drop-in service (which we have continued despite funding being cut), and the women-only session. We have also added a Somali drop-in session once per week utilising a Somali staff member, to respond to the needs of the local Somali community, a section of which are resident on the Wensley estate nearby. So far the demand for this service has more than justified its continuation, and we are continuing to monitor this closely in terms of ensuring there is sustained demand, and establishing whether further specialist services are needed.

We continue to see an increasing number of clients with immigration related queries, whether it be asking for advice on how to complete visa extension forms, or more complex queries from clients who have overstayed their visas. The organisation is regulated by the Advice Quality Standards and Legal Services Commission for Quality Mark and the Office of Immigration Services Commission to give immigration related advice. These standards were achieved by the organisation, which include an annual audit of the centre’s client based work as well as the policies and procedures of the organisation.

Esol 

Pre Entry ESOL

Firvale Community Hub with Sheffield Roma Netowork has been successfully delivering English My Way, Pre Entry ESOL, for the past 3 years.

Learners enjoy a variety of blended learning activities including Learning Circles, designed by the British Council and BBC, which encourage learners to focus on speaking and listening exercises for everyday situations such as shopping, going to the market, talking to other parents at school, dentist, Post Office, Job Interviews and speaking at work.

The course also includes some ICT exercises with interactive listening tasks. We currently deliver 4 sessions per week and have 19 learners from diverse backgrounds including Afghanistan, Roma Slovak and Pakistan.

Some of the learners will take English Speaking Board speaking and listening exams in January 2017 as the aim of these sessions is to prepare learners to move on to Entry level ESOL and eventually into employment. 

The feedback from learners and volunteers so far has been very positive. They have told us that they enjoy the friendly atmosphere and have made steady progress with their English Language learning and feel more confident to use English outside of the classroom.  

Employability
We provide the following support:

  • Job search

  • CV Writing

  • Job Application

  • Interview Skills

  • Career action planning

  • Training Course search

  • Help to find apprenticeships

Roma Culture & Language Course at FCH

Wednesday 24 January 2018 saw the successful launch of our new Roma Culture and Language Course. The course, in two parts, provides an overview of the origins and a short history of Roma people including migration, over the centuries, to all inhabited continents of the world including the UK and Sheffield. In addition it gives an insight into traditions, taboos and fears that shape the lives of the Roma diaspora.  We look at barriers faced by Roma people such as how persecution, discrimination, inequalities around health, employment, housing and education back in their country of origin impacts upon their lives in the UK.

In Part two of the course, we teach participants some basic vocabulary, useful phrases and pronunciation that they can utilise, when supporting Roma clients and their families, in their different roles. Margaret Gibson is supported in the delivery of the course by members of the Sheffield Roma Network: Marek Pacan, Alzbeta Horvathova Pavla Sandarova, Tomas Tancos and a volunteer from the University of Sheffield, Goran Vodicka. 

 

The first cohort included learners from Sheffield NHS, local doctors’ surgery, local schools and the Alternative Provision Network, Sheffield. Positive feedback illustrates that learners found that it provided them with an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas, take part in discussions and to make innovative suggestions towards Roma support at FCH.  A key observation during the course was that learners said they were pleased to be able to discuss things with and to ask questions to a member of the Roma community who gave straightforward answers.   

“Great to be able to ask Roma member straight questions and good to hear about Roma difficulties, culture and expectations.”

The course is held over two days for a total of 8 hours. A hot buffet lunch is included in the £150 fee which is invested back into the community.

The main aims of the course are:

  • To provide a historical and cultural overview of the Roma community

  • To provide an introduction to  key barriers in relation to the Roma community and their life in the UK

  • To provide a basic overview of some Roma key vocabulary, phrases & pronunciation that will be useful when communicating with Roma individuals and families.

The topics that we will cover are:

  • Origins and history of migration

  • Taboos and traditions

  • Family structures

  • Barriers, prejudices and fears

  • Roma language – some useful vocabulary, phrases & a guide to pronunciation

Past Services & Projects