78% of children are happy with the people they live with
Welfare Rights in the Community
In November 2018 the Welfare Rights Team began working from the five multi-disciplinary locality offices around Conwy County and at the same time opened up the service to all residents requiring benefit advice. Prior to this a social worker referral was required to access the service. The team operate a daily advice line which any Conwy resident can telephone for advice and assistance.
Call the Welfare Rights Team Monday to Friday on 01492 576605
Within the localities, the Welfare Rights Officers are part of a team of Social Care and Health professionals. Each Welfare Rights Officer is responsible for managing the referrals in the area and making their own arrangements for visiting clients. The Welfare Rights Officers are also a source of support for the Social Care and Health professionals who often ask advice about benefits and whether to make a referral. All parties work together to provide supporting letters and medical information needed for benefit claims, often on the same day. This can speed up the claim process for the client. For example, a client in hardship may need a letter from the doctor to support a grant claim, and this can be obtained on the same day to accompany the application form.
There are a number of advantages to working in this way. One is that there can be early intervention in cases which hopefully can avert crisis management. Welfare Rights Officers attend weekly cluster meetings where social workers, and Health staff such as nurses and occupational therapists discuss and allocate cases. Welfare Rights staff can give advice at an early stage and can often make an appointment to see the client the same day if necessary.
An elderly gentleman, aged 85 was in Llandudno hospital awaiting a suitable placement in a residential home. His case was discussed at the Cluster meeting as he was well enough to leave hospital but could not return home due to having had a stroke, which had left him with weakness in his arm and a lack of confidence.
The Social Worker knew that a place had become available at Llys y Coed Extra Care Housing Scheme which would suit his needs. The only problem was the affordability for the client. The place could only be held for 48 hours. The Welfare Rights Officer, with consent from the client, made the necessary enquiries with the Department for Work and Pensions about his State Pension and made an application on the same day for Attendance Allowance for the client. This application would increase his income by £87.65 a week. Because he lived alone and had no other income than his state pension, he qualified for another premium of £65.85 a week. He was £153.50 a week better off.
He is now happily in his flat and the warden reports that he has made new friends. Without early intervention by Welfare Rights he might not have had the opportunity to take up the tenancy.
Between April 2019 and January 2020 the Welfare Rights Team have seen 1,980 individuals and secured a total of £5,987,983.08 in benefits for them.
We provide outreaches in the community for benefit advice across a number of different services:
Monday 1-4pm at Sure Hope Church Old Colwyn for clients of the Food Share Project.
Monday 9.30am-12pm at Coed Pella Colwyn Bay – drop-in benefit advice service.
One Monday per month – service for patients of the pain clinic at Abergele Centre.
Last Tuesday of the month at Communities for Work for Job Centre clients.
The main challenge in Welfare Rights is to provide services which meet the needs of the community at the time and do not duplicate services provided by other agencies, such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Currently there is much focus on advice around Universal Credit and we are meeting this need by assisting with applications using tablet devices, providing drop-in sessions at Coed Pella, and via the advice line.
Other general advice on benefits can be found through Conwy’s website
Working from the Family Centres
The Welfare Rights Team also work out of the Family Centres around Conwy, plus Penmaenmawr Library. It is usual for an officer to see between four and six clients in a day and each is given the time to discuss their issues and deal with any urgent presenting problems to avoid escalation into crisis.
Between April 2019 and January 2020 the Welfare Rights Team have seen 161 clients at the Family Centres.
As Family Centres are multi-disciplinary, the general public can telephone for advice and an appointment for Welfare Rights can be arranged by health visitors, school nurses and support workers if required. The aim of the Welfare Rights Team is to provide early intervention to help prevent problems escalating into more complex issues. For example, by helping a young mum with rent arrears to budget her money and set up an affordable plan with the Housing Association to pay back the arrears, this can avoid eviction and homelessness. Another example could be that a young mum is facing domestic violence at home and needs advice on how to leave the partner. The Family Centre is easy for her attend and all the options can be explored in a safe environment, rather than in a formal office.
Not all clients are on benefits but are on low incomes or zero-hour contracts and are needing help with maximising their income and budgeting so they can pay for rent and electricity. If there is a debt issue then we can refer to the Citizens Advice Bureau direct and make the client an appointment.
As part of our service we check that the client is getting all the concessions available for example, help with water costs, free school meals and checking if the client is on the correct energy tariff. If the client has no money for food then a food parcel can be ordered.
Award Winning Services
The Conwy Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), which houses Galw Gofal and the Local Authority CCTV provision, has been awarded the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) Gold Standard. This is the highest security standard for an ARC, and we are the first in Wales to achieve it, with the ability to provide a bilingual service to all our customers both in the public and private sector. The accreditation will allow us to extend our scope of call monitoring services to include monitoring of intruder and hold-up alarms, fire alarms, CCTV used for security applications, lone worker devices, as well as social alarms and telecare equipment.
This is a tough standard to achieve and we experienced three days of on-site assessments to see how the team work and to confirm that all systems are in place. The construction of the monitoring centre was inspected along with security access arrangements, and our staff must be vetted to police standards. Our policies and procedures need to cover all aspects of the service, training programmes for staff must be in place, and we must have robust business continuity arrangements. Evidence was also required of us utilising effective quality management systems with an effective programme of internal audit.
Sustainable business growth, as the digital receiving centre is able to manage a wide variety of technologies and information. The ARC is the first digitally enabled monitoring centre in wales and we will work together with our partners to deliver services supported with the latest digital technology.
The Conwy TRAC team consists of 19 staff supporting learners in years 7 to 11, and more recently year 6, in all secondary schools, special schools and alternative education settings and up to ten primary schools across the county. The focus of the project is to provide support to young people who are most at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) when they leave school.
Since the beginning of the project in April 2016, the Conwy TRAC team has worked with 784 young people.
Learners are referred to TRAC by schools based on their Learner Profiling Tool (LPT) score. The score includes indicators such as attendance, behaviour and looked after status which are most highly weighted. Wellbeing Workers, school-based counsellors and Education Welfare Workers meet with young people for up to one lesson time/week. They work with young people to identify how attendance, behaviour and attainment can be improved by goal setting, objectives, advocate for young people and help improve social skills, communication, self-esteem and motivation amongst other things.
To date 197 young people have reduced their risk of becoming NEET whilst taking part in the project.
The TRAC team staff also deliver activities to small groups and providers, training organisations commissioned by TRAC deliver a variety or courses and activities, some of which can result in a qualification.
To date 149 level I or II qualifications have been awarded.
As part of their role TRAC workers attend multidisciplinary meetings and other social services meetings bringing the young person’s perspective to the meeting. This has been very useful to help inform panels about the best course of action for a young person.
A young person was referred to TRAC to help improve their attendance and explore why they were not attending school daily. School raised concern about the young person’s academic achievement but also worried about their mental health and the reluctance of the young person to be referred to CAMHS.
The young person was quite reserved during the first sessions. Over time, they started to open up about their personal life and why they disliked school. The young person also started to open up about their mental health. The support work started with emotional support, building confidence and exploring what health and unhealthy relationships look like.
The young person now attends full time secondary school with a much improved attendance record. They are now preparing for their future and have been referred to Careers Wales.
This project helps young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and between the ages of 16 and 24 back into the workplace, onto training courses or into education. ADTRAC has worked with over 130 participants, with:
- 22 gaining a qualification
- 24 entering employment and a further 4 on a part-time basis (fewer than 16 hrs)
- 11 entering education and a further 3 on a part-time basis (fewer than 16 hrs)
- 6 entering traineeships
- 5 completing work placements
- 6 moving into volunteering
What were the challenges?
The young people we work with are all different and bring a variety of barriers and personalities to the mix. All come to ADTRAC at a different stage of their lives; some might know what they want to do but need support to move forward with their ideas. Some require extra support and advice to achieve their goals, and others are not motivated to follow their goals and ambitions at all. The project has been extended until February 2021 and we will continue to support Conwy’s young people until that point.
Housing Innovation Grant – Preventing Homelessness
A Welsh Government Housing Innovation Grant has been secured to enable the Looked After Children Service to take over the Kick Start 1 project. This project has enabled the development of supported housing that provides 24/7 support for care leavers who are vulnerable and who have complex needs. These care leavers would otherwise be at risk of homelessness.
The grant has been used to fund the following areas:
- Provision of 24/7 care in the community for care leavers with complex needs
- Increase the offer of practical support and accommodation for care leavers
- Reduce the risk of care leavers becoming homeless
The provision is for care leavers who are at risk of becoming homeless and have been identified as needing a longer transition period before they can move into the community and manage their own tenancy.
The project has a designated Registered Manager responsible for delivering on each young person’s pathway and the outcomes set within these.
The enhanced model of supported living includes:
- Providing work opportunities
- Working collaboratively with Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, Personal Advisors, North Wales Police, Housing Officers and other key stakeholders
- Budgeting skills
- Resilience and problem-solving skills
- High level of supervision and monitoring of support needs
- Independent living skills
There have been some challenges within this project, for example, young people placed in supported living provision have needed particularly high levels of individual support to ensure their wellbeing is safeguarded. If this provision had not been available, the young people may have been at risk of exploitation and homelessness.
Going forward, potential future placements could consist of young people who have experienced multiple foster carer or residential placement breakdowns, or those placed in out of county residential placements who would benefit from being placed closer to home in an environment which gives a high level of support.
67% of young people agreed that they had received advice, help and support to prepare them for adulthood.
I’ve received quite a lot of help whilst moving and setting up my adult life.
Maelgwyn / Kick Start
The Looked After Children and Vulnerable People service are taking tenancies of two two-bed houses on the Maelgwyn Project. This resource will be for young people with medium level needs who require move-on from foster care. Liaison is underway with our Estates Department and Cartrefi Conwy to ascertain terms for management of the provision.
A wholesale review of the Supported Lodging Scheme will examine the numbers of young people accessing this project and identify the barriers to uptake of this accommodation option. The outcomes achieved for young people placed within temporary B&B accommodation have been reviewed to ascertain what is required for future temporary accommodation specifications. We are currently exploring alternative models with the Supporting People’s Team. By June 2020 we hope to have commissioned five planned beds and one emergency bed in a new project on Coed Pella, Supporting People grant funding having been redirected from Kick Start 1.
Cwrt Ysgol Maelgwn Social Housing Development
2 x 2 bedroom semi-detached houses are currently in development for children and young people who have been in Foster Care as part of the Cwrt Ysgol Maelgwn social housing development.
Cwrt Ysgol Maelgwn will consist of:
- 10 x 1 bed Supported Housing Units (to be allocated by Social Services)
- 2 x 5 bed bungalows adapted
- 4 x 2 bed houses (general needs)
- 2 x 2 bed houses (Social Services care leavers shared accommodation)
- 1 x 1 bed bariatric bungalow
- 2 x 2 bed bungalows
- 6 x 1 bed flat (with Social Services having first refusal for a limited period)
The care leavers’ shared accommodation provision is short-term needs-led and children and young people would be accommodated for periods between three months to two years before moving on to a place of their own as a transitional arrangement from ‘When I’m Ready’.
Wraparound support would be given to those accommodated during the day through Children’s Services and Vulnerable People’s support teams. This could include person-centred Personal Advisor support, a Welfare Rights Officer, a Social Worker and the Young Persons Positive Pathway office or whoever is involved in the care of the young person. This internal support will be combined with externally commissioned floating evening and weekend support.
Information will be regularly shared with Housing Solutions to find move-on solutions once the young person is ready to transition to alternative provision or independent living, thus ensuring the length of stay is kept to a minimum and the accommodation units can be accessed by further children and young people in need. The development is consistent with Conwy’s aims of developing sustainable communities and to meet the needs and aspirations of the local community who are marginalised in the current housing market.
Discussions are taking place to determine if the Housing Association developing the accommodation could rent directly to the young/vulnerable people concerned, with Conwy County Borough Council acting up where the person is under 18 years of age. Further arrangements around the support/care package in place and the funding available to cover the enhanced housing management required for short term, supported and shared housing are scheduled. A management agreement is also in the process of being developed.
Other Future Developments
In collaboration and partnership with other organisations such as Welsh Government and Clwyd Alun Housing Association, we are developing our offer of support in relation to reablement, Extra Care Housing, disability and independent living units. These exciting projects are still in the early stages of development. However, our aim through these initiatives is to provide appropriate and robust accommodation support to individuals.
67 % of adults felt that it was their choice to live in a residential home.
Best move I ever made.