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Sustainable Advice in Hackney's House of Lords Celebration


Lord LowOn Tuesday 13th October 2015, the Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC) team made our way up to the House of Lords to attend a reception hosted by our patron Lord Colin Low of Dalston CBE (pictured above) to celebrate the achievements of the Sustainable Advice in Hackney project.


The Sustainable Advice in Hackney project was a two-year  project funded through the Big Lottery Fund’s Advice Services Transition Fund (ASTF). The aim of ASTF was to support not-for-profit advice providers working in their local areas to adapt to a new funding environment where less public funding would be available.


HCLC lead the project and was responsible for its management and delivery of the project in partnership with six other local organisations: Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation, East End Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK East London, Hackney Migrant Centre, Halkevi and City and Hackney Mind. Operating in a contracted public funding landscape, the expectation was that agencies and partners would work to transform how they work to become more effective and resilient, generate new sources of income and innovate to do more with less.


Among the project's many achievements were:

  • Developing a Hackney wide advice sector website presence through www.hackneyadvice.org.uk to help local people better access advice and local advisors find training sessions and mutual support;
  • Providing training sessions for advisors and volunteers from the Hackney advice sector at aASTF partner agency representativesll levels. Over the past two years, the project's training officers, Andrew Skipper and Benno Allermann, who are based at East End CAB delivered 30 training sessions in debt, welfare benefits, employment and consumer issues for 288 advisors from over 35 advice agencies in Hackney;
  • Organising a number of ‘Community Information Sessions’, all of which took place in Hackney Town Hall in order to provide the local community with information about topics which they had been contacting local advice agencies in overwhelming and growing numbers;
  • Supporting the financial and organisational sustainability of small advice agencies who can only survive with the assistance of an army of volunteers. HCLC's Miranda Grell, who acted as the project's Business Development manager, organised bespoke training sessions for agencies on ‘Financial Planning and Reporting’ and ‘Exploring Charging for Charities’;
  • Hosting a roundtable to bring together advisors working in welfare benefits to brainstorm what would assist them to do their job better;
  • Commissioning Volunteer Centre Hackney to recruit a pool of new “Welfare Access Volunteers” to help clients who approach Hackney advice agencies for help completing forms (“form filling”) - in particular welfare benefits forms;
  • Commissioned the Social Spider Community Interest Company to conduct qualitative research in order to consider strategic issues about the Hackney advice sector as a whole. *READ SOCIAL SPIDER'S EXCELLENT REPORT HERE.*

We were delighted that Lord Low of Dalston, who as well as being a HCLC patron also heads up the The Low Commission on the Future of Advice and Legal Support,  hosted the project's end of project celebration. Lord Low praised HCLC calling us "The Best Law Centre in the World" and also remarked that the project's officers - in particular Andrew Skipper from the CAB -  were "brilliant".


Mark BrownWe are very keen that the project has a meaningful legacy. As well as the website, training courses, community sessions, advisor forums and other initiatives developed during the project, we also hope to take forward the recommendations contained in Social Spider CIC’s report and already begun work on trying to implement recommendation 8, ‘Digital Channels’, looking at how digital channels could be harnessed to help increase access to advice for Hackney residents.


Over the summer of 2015, Social Spider conducted two workshops for advisors in the sector and two workshops for members of the general public to find out how they feel about advice and the advice sector, what would improve their experience of advice – whether as advice seekers or advice givers – and their experience of using technology to give or receive advice to date. 


Lord Low Polly and IanSocial Spider will produce a smaller report on potential project ideas for developing digital advice in Hackney, which we hope will enable us to bid for new pots of funding to take the work forward. We will be discussing the recommendations with Lord Low and other interested parties in due course.


A big thank you again to Lord Low and his wonderful assistant Polly Goodwin (pictured above) for hosting the Sustainable Advice in Hackney end of project celebration! We would also like to say a big thank you to:

  • The Partner organisations – Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation, East End Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK East London, Hackney Migrant Centre, Halkevi and City and Hackney Mind;
  • The Project Officers – Benno Allermann, Andrew Skipper and Miranda Grell;
  • All of the advisors and local residents who participated in the training sessions;
  • Hackney Council – in particular, the late Ian LewisLola Akindoyin, Sonia Khan, Isabel De la Cour & Helen Brock;
  • Cllr Ian Rathbone for chairing all of the Community Information Sessions.

Please find a selection of photos, taken by Liz Woodroffe, from the Sustainable Advice's end of project celebration below:


ASTF partner agency representatives


Representatives of some of the partner organisations - Benno Allermann from the East End Citizens Advice Bureau; Lauren Tobias from Volunteer Centre Hackney; Andrew Skipper from the East End Citizens Advice Bureau; Miranda Grell from HCLC; Victor McAllister from the Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation; Sadiye Gurbuz from Halkevi 


Miranda speaking

Miranda Grell, the project's Business Development Manager


Benno Allermann and Andrew Skipper

The project's training officers Benno Allermann & Andrew Skipper


Susan Janes and Lord Low

Lord Low with Susan Janes, Financial Inclusion Officer at The Guinness Partnership 


Nimrod Meg Hillier Ian Rathbone

Nimrod Ben-Cnaan from The Law Centres Network; Meg Hiller, HCLC patron & Member of Parliament for Hackney South & Shoreditch; Cllr Ian Rathbone, Chair of HCLC


Dave and Helena Big Lottery

Dave Hutchinson and Helena Christie from the Big Lottery Fund


Cheryl Nimrod Meg

Cheryl Clarke from Hoxton Legal Advice Trust, Nimrod Ben-Cnaan from The Law Centres Network and Meg Hillier, Member of Parliament for Hackney South and Shoreditch


Eleanor Tracy Reeta

Eleanor McGill from Fair Money Advice, Reeta Kauppinen and Tracy Clonan from City and Hackney Mind



Hackney Community Law Centre US Intern Emily Messier


Euckay Yvette Benno

Euckay Ukando, Yvette Egbo and Benno Allermann from the East End Citizens Advice Bureau


Gary Martin

Gary Martin from St Joseph's Hospice


Jane Horwood and Lord Low

Lord Low with Jane Horwood from Catfish Web Design


Kevin and Desmond

Kevin Gannon and Desmond Rutledge from Garden Court Chambers


Kim and Marie

Kim Sin and Marie Froysa Hole from Hackney Community Law Centre


Rashid and Victor

Rashid Seedat from the East End Citizens Advice Bureau and Victor McAllister from the Hackney Caribbean Elderly Organisation


Yasmin Isabel Helen

Yasmin Alam from the East End Citizens Advice Bureau with Isabel De La Cour and Helen Brock from the London Borough of Hackney


Jane Miranda Mike

Jane Horwood and Mike Ash from Catfish Web Design with Miranda Grell, Project Business Development Manager


Lauren and Lord Low

Lord Low with Lauren Tobias from Volunteer Centre Hackney


Raya and Bella

Rayah Feldman from Hackney Migrant Centre and Bella Donnelly from Hackney Community Law Centre


Lord Low and Sarah

Lord Low with Sara Taylor from Hackney Community Law Centre


Lord Low Hilton and Nat

Lord Low with Hilton von Herbert and Nathaniel Mathews from Hackney Community Law Centre


Lord Low Polly and Ian

Lord Low, Polly Goodwin and Ian Rathbone


Sha-kera and Robin

Sha-kera King and Robin Charnley from Good Advice Haringey


Smiling audience

The celebration's guests applaud Lord Low


Lord Low cracking jokes

Lord Low jokes that HCLC is the "Best Law Centre in the World!"


Lord Low and HCLC team

Lord Low with (nearly all of) the "Best Law Centre in the World!"


Lord Low and HCLC interns

Lord Low with HCLC interns Primily Jo Malanum, Emily Messier,  Sorubiha Kamalanathan and Onika Philip-Adams


Miranda and Ian

Miranda Grell and Ian Rathbone from Hackney Community Law Centre


The attendees

Thanks to everyone for coming!!!