Charity receives vital funding from North Ayrshire Council
North Ayrshire Council has agreed a funding package for a charity that gives people crucial advice, help and advocacy to help improve their standard of living.
The Council’s Community Investment Fund (CIF) sees community partners working closely with Locality Partnerships to address local challenges that are specific to each area.
The application for CHAP, based in Ardrossan, to receive £91,534 was made through Irvine Locality Partnership.
The funding will allow the team at CHAP, which was set up in 2020, to deliver their services by establishing new advice worker outreach in community settings throughout the Irvine area.
It will allow CHAP to employ two full-time advice workers for a year to make services accessible in established and trusted environments that people are comfortable with, helping to break down barriers and avoid the stigma attached to asking for support.
People will be able to get help with a variety of benefits, housing and debt issues on their doorstep - a model that has already been successful in Kilwinning, Kilbirnie and the Three Towns areas.
CHAP’s mission is to ensure people are not disadvantaged through a lack of awareness of – or access to - information regarding their welfare rights.
The application supports the Irvine Locality Partnership priorities of Employment and Economy, Mental Health and Influence and Sense of Control.
Both posts will be advertised, and a quarterly report will be submitted to Irvine Locality Partnership with updates.
CIF awards range from £5000 to £100,000 and support projects linked to:
- The North Ayrshire Fair for All Strategy, with consideration for how applications contribute to community support during the Cost-of-Living Crisis
- The Community Planning Partnership and Locality priorities
- North Ayrshire Council’s values, priorities, and business objectives
- The Community Wealth Building and Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Strategies.
- Projects supported must also: not duplicate existing services or facilities, provide long-term, sustainable, positive results for the greatest number of people possible and offer innovative approaches to addressing community challenges.
CHAP offers support to the most vulnerable in our communities through income maximisation, budgeting, responsible borrowing and using credit unions to avoid problem debt.
And in the year from April 2022 to March 2023, CHAP achieved more than £2.3m in financial gains for clients through successful benefit applications and backdated payments, debt write-offs and hardship payments.
At its meeting on Tuesday (November 7) North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet approved the CIF award for CHAP.
CHAP chief executive Debbie Alexander said: “At CHAP, we know that there are two immediate barriers to obtaining help.
“The first is being able to get to a source of help, where perhaps even finding the bus fare can seem a step too far. The second is the stigma people may feel associated with needing help of any kind.
“Our solution was to take our advice and practical assistance model right into the heart of the community – partnering with existing community space to provide an outreach service where free help and advice is available in a local, neutral, non-judgemental place.
“This will reduce barriers for many people who urgently need to access support and advice.
“Our existing outreach services have been so well received that we are delighted to have secured funding to now provide this service in the Irvine area. We are currently engaging with the community to determine the best places from which to provide our services.
“We are extremely grateful to the Community Investment Fund from North Ayrshire Council for providing the financial backing to make this possible.”
Councillor Alan Hill, cabinet member for Communities and Islands, added: “It is great to be able to support CHAP, which does great work across North Ayrshire in helping people maximise their income and deal with debt and housing matters.
“I am sure people in Irvine will benefit greatly from having these two advice workers on their doorstep, offering support in community spaces they are familiar with.”