For 5 years, every Saturday morning between 9.30am to 12pm, residents visited our drop-in surgery to get free help and advice on a range of issues from benefits, housing to raising complaints. Trained and experienced Advisers (often pro bono) were at hand to help local families get to the bottom of things, so as to work out the best way to resolve problems.

This service was initially established with kind grant funding from Awards for All England, following concerns from community leaders about a gulf between families who have their own access to representation and good social contacts; and a growing number of poorer families who still suffer on their own due to language, disability and multiple disadvantage.

Hazara Begum, one of the Advisers said: “Most people’s issues did not fit into a neat box where filling a form or two could sort things out. A lot of our work involved connecting stories and problems together, to help our clients make sense of the specific issues and routes to dealing with them.”

In 2014, the service was replaced with a weekly drop-in surgery on Wednesday afternoons. For more information call Shale on