REACHING OUT - MAGAZINE
“Putting the client at the heart of everything we do” Autumn/Winter 2013 Welcome to our 3rd edition of the magazine. We have two new members of staff in the organisation. Kirsty Ellis is our new Director of Operations and Danielle Roberts has joined the organisation as Digital Inclusion Officer. Project Successes: Last quarter the team successfully housed 43 people (from July to October 2013) Services available: 1. A Sands worker will be at the project every Wednesday from 10.30am. This is a drop-in service. 2. We offer counselling at the project. If you feel you would benefit from seeing a counsellor, please speak to a member of the team. 3. We have recently formed a focus group, which will meet every six weeks. 1. 4. For those who may be interested, we now have a gardening group. Meetings will be held every Friday between 12.30pm and 3.00pm. All are welcome. 5. Similarly, we now have an arts group. Meetings will be held ion Fridays between 1.00pm and 4pm. All contributions from our clients would be most welcome!
In this edition of the magazine: Financial Pages: 1. Forthcoming changes to benefits 2. Credit Union 3. Saving money on the weekly shopping bill 4. How to keep warm during winter and saving money on fuel 5. Grants and assistance with winter fuel bills Housing Issues: 6. Guide to homelessness in Swansea
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Caer Las News: 7. Staff changes 8. Focus group day out 9. Community Garden History: 10. Tudor Swansea Leisure: 11. Recipes: Winter warmers 12. Quiz page
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Phone Directory How to Contact Outreach: Drop in at Access Point, Strand Ringmore, Swansea, SA1 2AW Open from 9am Monday – Friday Tel: 01792 467024 Email: Outreach@caerlas.org
1. Forthcoming changes to benefits Job Seekers’ allowance From 28th October the claimant commitment is being rolled out across the UK at job centres. It is expected that by next spring all job centres will be applying this claimant commitment to all job seekers. In Swansea the claimant commitment will affect job seekers from November 18th. How will this affect me? This new claimant commitment will replace the job seekers agreement. It sets out 1. What job search activity you will be undertaking 2. What work you are looking for 3. how many hours you are looking for work
What difference is there between the old agreement and the new commitment? The main difference between this new commitment and the previous agreement is that THE JOB SEEKER WILL BE EXPECTED TO LOOK FOR WORK FOR THE NUMBER OF HOURS THEY WOULD BE EXPECTED TO WORK – I.E. 35 HOURS PER WEEK (this excludes people with caring responsibilities or health/disability issues)
How will it work? As a claimant, you must be making a clear effort to find work and you will be given a weekly timetable of tasks to complete as part of your ‘Claimant Commitment.’ Any failure to comply with these responsibilities will be sanctioned. It is important that your commitment reflects any hardships that you are experiencing. Please speak to a member of staff about this, as they will be able to offer valuable advice. Similarly, If you are sanctioned and need to apply for a hardship payment, please speak to a member of staff, we are here to help. *Sanctions and loss of benefits may be in place for 4, 13, 26 or 156 weeks! So please be careful and get advice as soon as you can.
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Employment Support Allowance
Changes with regard to the appeal system Currently, if you have made an ESA claim and have subsequently been found fit for work you can lodge an appeal against this decision and receive the assessment rate for ESA until the appeal has been heard. This is changing. Now if you have been found fit for work, the decision to review your case will be made by the DWP and you will not be entitled to the assessment rate of ESA and you will have to make a claim for an alternative benefit. You will only be able to claim the assessment rate of ESA once you have lodged an appeal against the refusal of the mandatory reconsideration.
What does this mean in practice? You will have to make a claim for JSA and sign either a job seekers agreement or, more than likely from November, a Client Commitment (see above). The purpose of this will be to outline the extent of your efforts to find employment. If in practice the Job Centre take more than 3 months to undertake the mandatory reconsideration you may well be mandated to the work programme. You may also be asked to sign every 2 weeks. As before, failure to comply with the client commitment will result in sanctions (it is vital that you follow all directions from the DWP).
Important information Please see a member of staff or agencies such as Welfare Rights/CAB etc for job assistance as soon as possible if you find yourself affected by these changes. The Job Centre must know if: 1. You are challenging a decision regarding being found fit for work 2. You need to see the Disability Emplyment Advisor (at all job centres) to discuss restrictions and limitations (health/mobility concerns) and place certain restrictions on your work search activity. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT, IF THERE ARE TOO MANY RESTRICTIONS THAT ARE DEEMED TO BE UNREASONABLE, YOU MAY EXCLUDE YOURSELF FROM BEING ENTITLED TO JSA. A member of staff or supporting agency will be able to advocate for you you with the Job Centre. Please remember to get help as soon as you are able to do so, please keep in mind that if you receive a sanction, you would be advised to get help quickly.
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2. The Swansea Credit Union We have once again included information on the Swansea Credit Union. I know every one is not aware of this great community asset; members can join and save throughout the year to pay for those extra expenses at Christmas and birthdays. It is also possible to take out loans (at very low interest rates) when you have been saving for a period of time. We are currently looking at ways of making this great service accessible to all Caer Las clients. If you would like information on this, please speak to a member of staff. Useful Information What is the Credit Union? (current information obtained from the Credit Union) Swansea Credit Union- A Credit Union is a financial co-operative, meaning that we are owned by our members (customers). Unlike a high street bank, we have no external share-holders, profits are returned to our members. Part of the Community- We’ve been part of the community in Swansea for almost twenty years. Essentially a ‘best kept secret’ we offer secure saving accounts and low-cost loans. We have competitive rates of interest. Around the world- There are credit unions all over the world, with over 187 million people using them. So why not join the millions and become a member? Credit Unions can help build a better future and better world. Low Cost Loans- Our loans are cheaper than a doorstep lender, cheaper than a pay day lender and cheaper than most high street banks. Our loans range from as low as 12.7% APR to 26.8% APR. Loans range from £50 to £5,000. Safe Secure Savings- Unlike a savings club, we are regulated by the FSA (Financial Services Authority) and all monies saved are covered by the FCSS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme). We also offer free life insurance* Contact us- We are open Monday to Friday 10.00 to 15.00. Our offices are currently located at 139 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5RQ. Telephone 01792 643632. Email: query@ lasacreditunion.org.uk
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3. Saving Money on the Weekly Shop As well as saving money on fuel, with careful planning, you can make savings on the weekly food bills by following these simple tips: 1. Plan the week’s menu and draw up a list of what you will need. This will allow you to eliminate any potentially unnecessary purchases. 2. NEVER GO SHOPPING ON AN EMPTY STOMACH, this keeps temptation at bay, particularly where cakes and snacks are concerned. 3. Try to buy from the value range as much as possible, particularly when purchasing essentials like rice or pasta. 4. Don’t always assume, however, that supermarkets will have the best deals. It’s sometimes worth taking a look around local markets for a bargain. Local Butchers, for instance, are often willing to offer great deals on certain products. 5. Supermarkets will often reduce the price of their goods in order to meet sell by dates. Once purchased, some of these goods can be put in the freezer, provided that they have not already been frozen at some other point. 6. Try to look out for less popular types of meat and fish, as they are often significantly cheaper than premium cuts. 7. Beans, lentils and pulses are a great source of protein. Try to include these in dishes such as chilli or bolognaise, as it will enable you to reduce the amount of meat you might put in the dish. 8. Have a go at growing your own vegetables. We have no launched our community garden at Access Point (see our new gardening section in this edition).
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4. How to Keep Warm This Winter and Save on Fuel Bills Following on from the article in our last edition, A basic guide to managing your fuel bills, we have put together some useful hints and tips for keeping warm and saving money on your winter fuel bills. There is a lot of information out there and much of it is on the internet. We have gathered much of this information from Age UK, NHS Direct and CAB. How to keep yourself warm (tips from Age UK, though you don’t have to be over 50 to benefit!) 1. Consume hot drinks regularly throughout the day. 2. Wear several layers instead of one, as this will trap heat in and around the body. 3. Heat gets lost from the head and neck area, so wear a scarf and hat, even in the house. I know it may not be up there in the fashion stakes, but it will keep you warmer!! 4. Try to have at least one hot meal a day. Start the day with porridge made with milk, it is nourishing, cheap and will warm you inside. 5. Don’t forget it’s what you eat. I know carbs have had a bad press in recent years but potatoes, rice and pasta are cheap, filling (not to mention comforting) and will provide the energy your body requires to produce heat! 6. If you’re sitting in at night, watching TV or reading, it may be a good idea to put your feet up, as the air will be warmer than it is at ground level. Sitting for any length of time you may feel cold, so keep a blanket around your shoulders. 7. In especially cold weather an extra blanket may be useful and wearing extra layers of clothing will keep you snug and cosy in bed. If the weather gets very cold, thermal underwear would be very useful. As well as keeping yourself warm there are certain things you can do to keep your environment as warm as possible. The golden rule here is to keep precious heat in and cold out. This can be achieved by: 1. 2. 3. 4.
If at all possible, invest in some thermal linings for your curtains. Draw all your curtains at dusk, this helps prevent heat from escaping. Put draft excluders up at windows and doors. Drying clothes is difficult in winter. Try to avoid drying wet clothes on radiators, especially in the room you spend the most time in, it will cut down the temperature and could make the room damp. Also avoid putting furniture in front of your radiators, as this will warm your furniture but leave you out in the cold.
Tips on reducing bills: 1. Turn off lights in rooms you are not using. 2. Try not to have electrical items on standby. 3. Don’t overfill the kettle; only boil the water you need. You may be amazed at the amount of energy this requires. Page 6 of 8
4. Use the 30 degree programme on the washing machine. 5. Make sure that you always fill the washing machine. Half loads are not economical if you are watching the pennies. 6. Only heat the rooms you are using. The NHS advises to heat the lounge by day (at 18-21C/65-70F) and the bedroom by night, just before going to sleep. They advise to warm the house to around 16C. In addition, it may be of benefit to pay attention to weather warnings, in order that you can prepare for sudden cold spells. The Met Office website is a great resource in this respect. You can also find out what the weather will be doing for the next 5 days on the BBC website, merely by entering your postcode. As winter approaches, these resources may prove to be invaluable, both with regards to staying warm and saving money on energy bills.
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5. Grants and Assistance with Winter Fuel Bills Following on from our previous pages on tips to keep warm this winter, you (or the person you may be looking after) may be entitled to certain grants and assistance with fuel bills and/or making your home more energy efficient. This information has been collated from various website, including Gov.uk and CAB. 1. Cold Weather Payment How to qualify: You may get this payment if your are receiving certain benefits such as Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Job Seekerâ€™s allowance, Income-related ESA or Universal Credit. Payments are made if the temperature where you live is recorded as or forecast to be an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days. The payment will be ÂŁ25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between November 1st and March 31st. Go to Cold Weather Payment (http://pensiond.direct.gov.uk/en/cold-weatherpayment/) this website will tell you if your area is due to receive this payment speak to a member of staff to assist you with this if you do not have access to the internet. COLD WEATHER PAYMENTS WILL NOT AFFECT ANY OF YOUR OTHER BENEFITS.
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Outreach Project have introduced a client magazine which is produced 3 times a year to inform and entertain. We encourage our clients to tak...