CARIS advice service is designed to assist homeless families dealing with their everyday challenges including: evictions, benefits decisions, debt, violence, unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunity and isolation. In a typical year, over 300 clients and over 700 children receive in-depth support through CARIS’ outreach, advice and advocacy services. These client numbers do not include the regular information and outreach advice surgeries in local organisations or advice given over the telephone. The case work is predominantly face-to-face by appointment.
Our legally trained advice workers provide a range of specialist advice on welfare rights, housing, destitution, immigration (OISC level 1), education, women and children. CARIS clients tend to have multiple needs, so most cases covered many of these issues simultaneously. When necessary, some clients are referred or signposted for additional support using our network of partners, including community organisations and local firms.
CARIS advice service provision has enabled families to receive full entitlement to benefits and successfully challenge benefits decisions. We have also successfully improved clients’ living conditions. Advice workers organise regular home visits where housing assessments (which includes home safety checks) are performed and actions against landlords carried out. In order to address the housing needs of homeless families in the Borough, CARIS takes part in the LB of Haringey Homelessness Strategy Group and the Temporary Accommodation Options and Delivery Group.
Our advice workers have held specific training and information sessions on key issues faced by homeless families. These sessions were attended by clients, Children’s Centre (CC) staff and members of other networks. This activity increased awareness among families on their rights and how to seek advice, it also enabled statutory bodies to learn how to assist families deemed hard to reach and supported CC inductions for their new and existing staff.
CARIS has also provided emergency food parcels, clothing and equipment (e.g. cots, pushchairs, baby clothes etc.) to support parents and their children who have no immediate recourse to public funds. We plug gaps in provision by offering a ‘joined up’ and personalised service designed around the individual needs of our clients.