St Anns Welfare Rights Group

St Anns was the area studied in the seminal work of Richard Silburn & Ken Coates[1]. This classic study revealed that, despite the heady predictions of the early seventies, poverty & social need still existed in the inner city & was responsible for early death, crippling disease, misery & depression.  It was amid this milieu that the foundation for this Group emerged.  

The St Anns Welfare Rights Group began with 3 volunteers offering advice to local residents in the area, on welfare benefits &, more generally, help to understand their entitlements to the ‘social’.  Initially the local pub housed the advisors but soon the demand called for a little more privacy & so the group moved to a resident’s front room. No appointments were necessary & no-one was ever turned away. The eighties were a difficult time with high levels of unemployment increasing the demand for quality, free, independent advice on all aspects of welfare. The demand was high & the accommodation inadequate.

The Advice Group moved into a city council flat on the Robin Hood Chase in 1985. It worked alongside the local community in raising funds to build a Neighbourhood Centre that would be purpose built to house community & voluntary groups in the area under one roof. In 1997 the Chase Neighbourhood Centre was opened & now the Advice Centre hold the lease.

The Group has kept abreast with the social, economic & political changes that have had, over the years, devastating effects on the local community

We develop & deliver a range of projects that tackle some of the most urgent issues our communities face, particularly the impact of income deprivation, social & financial exclusion & inequality.

Our work stretches from the provision of basic welfare benefit advice / guidance, to complex advice & debt casework,  including; supporting people to resolve simple & complex debt problems, benefit checks; assessing benefit entitlements; representing tenants facing rent & council tax arrears; support service users in completing forms & dealing with complicated form based bureaucracy; resenting people at the DWP tribunals & appeals; representing workers at employment tribunals & negotiating with employers. We also run a fuel debt & efficiency project & have our own food & furniture recycling store. We are currently developing a training hub in partnership with the other advice providers in the city to support our clients into work readiness.

The Advice Group continues to develop the face to face reception work that deals with less complicated issues but remains the initial contact point for clients & therefore crucial in setting the correct ambience for the centre.

The St Anns Advice Group is a registered charity. We are managed by a Board of Trustees. We aim to provide free, independent advice on all aspects of social welfare law to those that are the most disadvantaged within our community & across the city.

Debbie Webster

[1] Poverty the Forgotten Englishmen (spokesman books 1970)