ACFA: The Advice Network prides itself on the quality of the service provided by its members and we're always delighted when our members receive recognition for the amazing work they do.
Winning awards is one of the ways by which we know that we're on the right track: maintaining and improving the high standard of advice and support that our clients, staff, volunteers and funders have come to expect.
Below you'll find details of some of our latest successes:
29 June 2016: Avon & Bristol Law Centre wins The Lawyer Award for Pro Bono Initiative of the Year.
Across the country, 59 per cent of people who challenge the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on its decision regarding whether they are fit to work win their case. At the Avon & Bristol Law Centre, this rises to a staggering 95 per cent.
Three years ago centre head Andy King established a process by which student volunteers from the nearby University of Law campus and the University of the West of England (UWE) could represent advise benefits claimants and represent them at tribunals.
Deluged by student requests for hands-on, client experience, King matched the needs of both students and clients. Initially working with just two UWE students, he designed template letters and systems by which the project could run. The first cohort of students trained their replacements and so the project’s self-perpetuating system was born.
Taking only the most gifted students, the project recruits from the end of undergraduates’ first years until graduation and runs on a rotational basis, with waves of volunteers starting three times a year.
In three years, over 200 clients have been helped, with an average £5,000 per client regained in benefits. All the participating students have gained first class honours degrees.
“The success rates speak for themselves,” said judges. “This is simply inspiring work with benefits on all sides: the general public, the students and society as a whole.”
15 October 2015: Andy King from Avon & Bristol Law Centre wins prestigious Bristol Law Society Award.
The President’s Outstanding Achievement Award 2015 is awarded to someone who has shown a selfless dedication to helping others throughout their career.
Having worked for the Avon and Bristol Law Centre for nearly 30 years, this year’s winner has worked tirelessly to help thousands of the most vulnerable people in society, who may otherwise not have received any legal support.
After LASPO and the legal aid cuts recently hit the Centre very hard, particularly in the winner’s field of welfare benefits, our winner devised an innovative scheme to aid those stripped of support by training up local law students in the niche area of Employment Support Allowance Appeals.
Amidst the backdrop of the devastating effects of ESA being denied to thousands of people following work capability assessments, the Legal Advocacy Support Project has fought back.
With a 95% success rate in appeals, compared to a 59% national average, the scheme passed an epic milestone of £1m in compensation in August this year, with the students from the University of the West of England and the University of Law helping over 200 people wrongly assessed as being fit for work.
As well as benefitting those affected, our winner’s hard work in setting up and managing the project has provided a valuable opportunity for the student volunteers to gain experience in client care, drafting, negotiation and advocacy.
Although going to the project’s leader, this year’s award also recognises the time and efforts of those student volunteers and the excellent results they have achieved, as well as all those at the Avon and Bristol Law Centre who made it possible.
For all of that and for his undiminished enthusiasm for using the law to help the vulnerable, the President’s Outstanding Achievement Award 2015 goes to Andy King.
25 August 2015: 1625ip 'Future 4 Me' project wins National Lottery Awards for the Best Charity Project in the UK
Future 4 Me does amazing work with vulnerable children and young people leaving the care or justice system. Every young person deserves a bright future but these young people are much more likely to become homeless or suffer social exclusion without the right support. Future 4 Me offers housing, mentoring, positive activities, learning and work, counselling and someone to be there. It works! It gives young people a chance to succeed even if they’ve had a traumatic and difficult start in life.
Diversity's Ashley Banjo surprised unsuspecting Future 4 Me staff and service users by attending an art workshop to announce Future 4 Me had won the coveted National Lottery "Best Charity Project Award".
See a full set of photos of the moment Ashley arrived at the Trinity Arts Centre here.
View the 1625IP Press Information here
7 July 2015: Talking Money staff receive National Energy Action (NEA) Heat Heroes Award
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor of Bristol, Cllr. Clare Campion-Smith visits Talking Money to congratulate Sylwia Kulaczkowska and Aisha Sterling on winning National Energy Action (NEA) Heat Heroes Awards; they both work to alleviate fuel poverty across different communities in Bristol and provide energy efficiency advice, help to maximise income and reduce debt over the phone and in person.
For 2015, there are 11 Heat Heroes from across England and Wales; people recognised as having gone above and beyond their role. We are proud that our ACFA members, Centre for Sustainable Energy (see below) and Talking Money, scooped 4 of the 11 awards!
Download the Talking Money Press Release
30 June 2015: Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) staff receive National Energy Action (NEA) Heat Heroes Award
Jenny Cartwright and Louise Evans received National Energy Action (NEA) Heat Heroes Awards for their efforts to help those struggling with the effects of fuel poverty. The awards are presented yearly by National Energy Action (NEA), a charity which aims to eradicate fuel poverty and campaigns for greater investment in energy efficiency.
As a volunteer, Jenny gives up many hours each week to help deliver events and talks, and to attend and advise on home visits. Louise Evans, nominated by her previous employer (Community Council for Somerset), works with fuel poor families with young children across Somerset.
15 June 2015: WE Care & Repair scoops prestigious Home Improvement Agency and Handyperson Award
At the Awards ceremony held at the House of Lords, caseworker, Carole Rendall, beat the competition from Aster Living and St Vincent’s Homecare & Repair to be named npower Health Through Warmth Champion 2015
Carole was commended for her significant contribution to improving the lives of vulnerable people living in cold homes by accessing the npower Health Through Warmth Hardship Fund; this fund offers help to people in England and Wales who have long term illnesses and are finding it hard to fund heating systems repairs and replacements, and insulation in their homes.
Download the WE Care & Repair Press Release
May 2015: ACFA member, Avon & Bristol Law Centre, is chosen as Guildhall Chambers' Charity of the Year.
Each financial year Guildhall Chambers chooses a local charity to support: http://www.guildhallchambers.co.uk/charity-of-the-year.html
11 March 2015: Members of the Secure and Warm Partnership in Bristol receive 'Red Plaques' in recognition of Comic Relief funding
Talking Money, lead agency for the Secure and Warm Partnership funded by Comic Relief, welcomes comedian, Stephen Merchant, to their offices. He presented the partnership with brand new 'Red Plaques' in recognition of their vital work helping older people increase their income, improve their financial skills and reduce fuel poverty.
The partnership consists of seven ACFA members: Talking Money, Avon & Bristol Law Centre, North Bristol Advice Centre, WE Care & Repair, St Pauls Advice Centre, South Bristol Advice Services and Age UK Bristol - all delivering a range of specialist services including money, debt, energy and housing advice to people aged 65 and above living in the West of England.
Download the Talking Money Press Release