Advice Space founded in 1964 as Citizens Advice Belfast operates from 6 offices around the City and 3 hospital sites.
Like all the advice sector in Northern Ireland we provide quality independent advice, which is confidential, free, impartial and non- judgemental. The needs of our clients are met during the COVID-19 lockdown in the following ways:
Telephone Advice: 03001233233
Clients living with physical disability
Welfare Reform Enquiries
COVID-19 Health Service Line
Clients affected by cancer
Get Email Advice
Client effected by a Sensory impairment
or text 07552127492
Our offices act as an opposition party holding government to account for its actions in the lives of our clients. We identify and address Social Policy issues and we lobby in order to help make effective change.
We operate an all-inclusive service which does not discriminate on any grounds.
Access to Justice is a fundamental principle of the rule of law. It enables people to exercise their rights and encourages active participation in the legal system. Recent cuts have made this more difficult for many people. The principle of free to the end user ensures that people have access to advice on a range of issues and local offices can refer on to specialist organisations which adhere to the same principles as ourselves.
For 56 years Advice Space has operated an independent service free from any interference from Government. Our offices are places where clients can feel safe and where they can feel free to talk openly. Our offices are spaces where confidentiality is sacrosanct, and people are treated with dignity and respect. Sadly, this is not always the case in Government Departments.
Our local offices are wealth creators as each year they assist people to claim new benefits. They are instrumental in ensuring that those people already on benefits are not only getting the right benefits but crucially the right amount. Year on year we pick up cases were clients are not getting their full entitlement and our advisors assist them in the long process of proving their case. Advisors have also highlighted issues around the claiming process, such as clients not being assessed for Income Based ESA when making a claim for Contribution based ESA. This is intricate and hard work which results in millions of pounds being put back into our client's pockets and in turn the local economy.
The Welfare State was achieved even though the post war period was a time of austerity. The Welfare State was the safety net through which no one would fall through. That net has been ripped open and the local advice centres are now the net that prevents people falling into total destitution. It is not coincidence that our offices are situated in the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland.
Local Advice offices provide opportunities for local people to volunteer and help their own community. Volunteering saves the government money each year. In 2018/19 volunteers with Advice Space contributed 14,740 hours which is the equivalent of 10 full time staff thereby saving Government £210,000. Whilst this is impressive Volunteering can and does lead to people getting full time jobs. The skills that are imparted during training help volunteers to have a head start when they commence job hunting. Volunteering has also many health benefits with volunteers reporting the following benefits:
· Volunteering connects you to others
· Volunteering is good for your mind and body
· Volunteering can advance your Career
· Volunteering brings fun and fulfilment to your life.
The Advice Process is an intricate one. The advisor is not just a passive provider of information but an advocate for each person they deal with; they support and inform positive decision paths for each person, tailored to individual need. The independent advice sector is an important pillar in the nexus of advice on a wide-ranging area of social issues and needs.
In the New Decade New Approach era the need for any future Mitigation Programme to resource and support a tribunal system for Northern Ireland is imperative. Mitigation will not deal with any social justice issues generated by welfare reform unless it resources a means to help applicants present their cases before tribunals.
Telephone: 0300 1233 233