CHAS (Bristol) Housing Advice Service is delivered by a full-time Housing Advice Manager and part-time Housing Advisor. They are supported by a Partnership and Development Manager and Office Manager. We have a set of clearly defined policies and procedures and advice services are consistently provided to the highest standard and we hold the Advice Quality Standard at General Help with Casework level in Housing.
CHAS (Bristol) has a vision of society where all members of the community have a place they can call home. We believe that everyone has a right to a decent home, based on the values of the equality and dignity of each human being. We believe that housing is central to the development of individuals, communities and society as a whole. We are therefore striving to ensure that everyone has a place to live, with a particular focus on those in the greatest need.
In 2015-16 CHAS (Bristol) helped 533 households during the year, compared with 428 helped in 2014-15. We took on 102 new cases entailing 480 presenting problems and provided one-off advice to a further 356 people. We also continued to help 75 existing clients.
The following are some examples of cases CHAS (Bristol) has advised on, together with the positive outcomes:
A single parent with 2 young children was referred by the Carers’ Support Service. She needed to move in with her vulnerable cousins, whose mother had just died, to become their guardian. We helped her negotiate with the Council and the Benefits Service to allow her to give up her own tenancy and move in to look after her cousins, with no loss in benefits.
Referral from Missing Link Housing Association: A single parent with a 13-year old daughter, street homeless after the Council refused to accommodate them, although the daughter had been suffering abuse from her father’s stepdaughters and self-harming. CHAS (Bristol) advocated on her behalf to secure emergency accommodation and made a referral to a solicitor for further assistance.
A severely disabled woman, living in a specialist disability Housing Association property, had no intercom system to let in visitors and was told instead to leave her door open, which resulted in a sexual assault by a neighbour. CHAS (Bristol) made a referral to a specialist discrimination solicitor and helped her to challenge the Housing Association’s refusal to install reasonable security adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. The Housing Association then installed an intercom system to enable her to be safe in her home.
A woman and her 17-year old student son became homeless after their home was broken into and the son attacked. The son had previously given a Police Witness Statement against a man who had been on the run from the police and who was later sent to prison. The family were being targeted in retaliation. CHAS (Bristol) helped the family apply for homelessness assistance and get priority for an emergency transfer with the council and have now been permanently rehoused.
A 35-year old man was homeless after leaving prison and in recovery from drug addiction. 3.5 months clean after 15 years in addiction, he was seeking private rented accommodation but had no money for a deposit. Thanks to CHAS (Bristol)’s help, he was able to access the Council’s Homelessness Prevention Fund and secure private rented accommodation.
Referred by the Avon & Bristol Law Centre, a 49-year old man who had undergone a heart transplant, was trying to find alternative accommodation after suffering homophobic harassment and living in constant fear of attacks from neighbours. CHAS (Bristol) advocated on his behalf and succeeded in getting him priority for a move to a self-contained flat in another part of the city where he can now live safely .
CHAS (Bristol) is a member of several local networks that work together to ensure the quality of advice services, campaign on advice issues and share good practice. These networks include Advice UK, Advice Centres for Avon (ACFA), the Tenants Advocates Group (TAG) and the Council’s Revenue and Benefits Liaison Group. We have formed a good partnership with Bristol Citizens Advice (CAB) to work with their Good Tenants Scheme on homelessness prevention in the private rented sector.
OTHER SOURCES OF HOUSING ADVICE
Shelter: 0344 515 1430 or the National Housing Helpline 0808 800 4444
South West Law: (0117) 314 6400
Avon & Bristol Law Centre: (0117) 924 8662
CAB Good Tenants’ Scheme: 0344 499 4718 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org