Year 2 of the pilot
The CCS Programme Year 2 evaluation Norfolk pilot site summary paper can be viewed here. Voluntary sector members of the local CCS partnership group include Norfolk Community Advice Network, Norfolk Citizen's Advice and Community Action Norfolk. The partnership group also includes Norfolk County Council officers responsible for administering the Norfolk Assistance Scheme (NAS) and the CCS programme is working with partners to increase awareness of the NAS.
Norfolk Citizen's Advice (NCA) delivered two projects with CCS funding during the second year of the programme. The first was a six-month Grant Awareness research project. The research mapped local and national grant giving opportunities for those in need of financial assistance. The specially appointed researcher developed and delivered training for VCS organisations across the county to raise awareness and uptake of opportunities for clients in need. The project included the compiling and upkeep of a grants database accessible to organisations across Norfolk. The CCS programme also supported another NCA research project into reducing digital exclusion. This 12-month project sought to remove barriers that prevent vulnerable individuals from accessing digital advice and support. Clients were supplied with an internet-ready device and received intensive support over a period of time to access accredited advice and perform online tasks. The CCS Programme supported the research project with funding for a number of digital devices and dongles. The programme has also continued to support Norfolk Community Advice Network (NCAN) to further expand and develop their online referral system.
The CCS Programme has partnered with the Smallwood Trust to distribute small grants to financially vulnerable women in all four CCS pilot areas. In Norfolk, funding from the Smallwood Trust has been awarded to Leeway and the Pandora Project- local charities providing support to those affected by domestic abuse.
Our research project on crisis support in all four pilot areas was completed in April 2021. The project explored perceptions and experiences of crisis support among LA and VCS professionals, as well as service-users. Read the Norfolk report in full here.
Year 1 of the pilot
Responding to Covid-19 obviously dictated CCS programme work in all pilot sites after March 2020. September 2020 marked the first year of the pilot in Norfolk, and this felt like an appropriate time to bring local partners together to consider how the next phase of the programme should develop. The main purpose of the Year 1 Partnership meeting was not to review the previous year but rather to look ahead. This short briefing note was shared with local partners beforehand and the new CCS Norfolk Partnership Charter which set out the aims local partners are collectively working towards.
At the onset of the first national lockdown, Local Authority and Voluntary Community Sector partners in Norfolk identified a need to support individuals with No Recourse to Public Funds and black and minority ethnic communities that may be affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The CCS Programme worked with the Norwich Integration Partnership to provide food vouchers, data credit top-ups and fuel top-ups to families and individuals with a BAME backgrounds, such as individuals with No Recourse to Public Funds and asylum seekers.
The CCS Programme also worked with the Norfolk Community Advice Network (NCAN) to support with the promotion and expansion of their online referral system, aiming to increase uptake ang usage across the county. Increasing usage of the referral system should enable quicker and more effective ‘warm referrals’ amongst a larger number of organisations across Norfolk. The system enables organisations to effectively and securely share sensitive information, avoiding the client having to repeat their issue to multiple agencies.
The CCS programme funded the Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS) to source a Family solicitor for 6 hours a week for 10 months. Following the Covid-19 lockdown, NCLS experienced an increase in demand for legal advice relating to domestic violence and other family related matters. The pandemic also led to new types of issues arising, particularly relating to parents being separated from their children due to isolating or due to serving as key workers.