Stepping Stones: improving client resilience

Over the last two months, as well as managing Z2K’s volunteers and our expanding tribunal project I have also been on secondment to the South West London Law centre on a really exciting new project of which Z2K is a partner.

The name of that project is the Stepping Stones project. The main purpose of which is to  assist clients to access existing support services and training more effectively, in order to help them achieve their goals and ensure long term positive outcomes. This relies on the co-ordination of volunteers to deliver support to individual clients and their families to improve their future resilience and their ability to meet challenges and access new opportunities. In addition all clients who are helped through the project have access to a specialist Welfare Advice Caseworker who can advise and provide representation on a range of welfare benefits issues.

Within the project there is scope to have a real long-lasting impact on client’s lives, confidence and ability to manage their own benefit and financial situations. Clients will get the opportunity to work one to one with the volunteer working with them, and receive tailored support, ranging from practical support such as explanation of and assistance to organise letters to support to attend local workshops and support groups.

Too often advice services deal with a never ending cycle of problems – we solve one issue for a client only for them to come back again. The aim of this project is to end this cycle and support clients to stand on their own, giving them the confidence and skills to tackle future problems themselves.

Unfortunately so far the work I have been doing is on the more unexciting (yet indeed extremely important) side of the project, that is devising policies and procedures, template intervention tools and template forms, but thanks to that the project will soon be ready to recruit its first lot of volunteers and clients.

Sadly, just as the exciting part is about to start I will be bowing out to go on maternity leave, however I look forward to reading update blogs from my successor Elif and coming back next year to see how the project has grown.

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About Catherine Hartshorn

Originally from Barnsley Catherine moved to London three years ago to study Social Work at the University of West London. During her degree she completed a placement at Z2K and impressed so much with her work that she was asked to work full time after completing her degree.

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