A partnership between Citizens Advice Sandwell and Brushstrokes, helping newcomers to settle well in Sandwell, becoming economically and socially active and starting to contribute to the life of their local community
The project is funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Who can receive support?
Sandwell residents who have newly arrived in the UK in the last 2 years. Support will not be available through the project for asylum seekers or individuals who are in the UK without leave to remain.
What support can we provide?
Our support workers known as Community Navigators will deliver very practical advice and hands-on support to newcomers, dealing with their immediate issues and helping them to settle more permanently in Sandwell:
● Dealing with immediate problems, through advice on housing, benefits
● Support to access immigration advice
● “Settling Well” orientation to their new community. This will include accompanying clients to appointments, GP and dentist registration, familiarisation with appropriate use of health services, awareness of housing rights and responsibilities, familiarisation with local waste disposal arrangements.
● Support to access English classes
● Linking into local activities in the communities where the migrants settle, bringing resident communities and migrants together
Our approach – flexible and joined up preventative advice and support, tailored to meet the needs of each client.
My name is Illa Patel; I work for Citizens Advice Sandwell on the Settling Well Project. I speak two Languages English and Gujarati and I am very excited to be part of this new project especially as it is helping the local community. I have always worked with the general public in my previous job as a Market Researcher and as an Interpreter. My hobbies are watching my local football team West Bromwich Albion, Zumba, and reading.
My name is Valentina Merlini. I am originally from Italy and I moved to the UK in 2015. I have lived in Sandwell for the last 4 years, and worked in Care and Support across different settings, getting to know services available in the area. I previously volunteered in the Community Sector, being involved in Employment Support projects and in English learning activities for migrants and newcomers.
I get great satisfaction from giving support and encouragement to people experiencing difficulties, difficulties similar to the ones that I encountered when I first arrived in the UK. I enjoy being busy playing various roles which involve continuous learning and development, therefore I wish that I can help my future clients improve their prospects and fulfill their potential. I feel happy when I see former clients that have in their journey towards settling well and feeling at home in this community. They have more confidence about their chances in life and more positive about their future.
My name is Syeda Bibi I was born and brought up in Sandwell From an early age I have been supporting community members who have language barriers to access the services they need. This includes help with writing forms, making calls or registering with schools, banks doctors, etc. I then I started helping people with immigration support either to help families come from abroad or existing members settling in the UK. This included access to ESOL classes and other activities that they were not aware of. It makes me feel good to help someone in need and that my work is valued.
Hello, my name is Rosa Nebaj, I work for Citizens Advice Sandwell for the Settling Well Project as a Community Navigator. I am an enthusiastic and resourceful person who loves working in the community. I am fluent in Arabic and speak good Dutch and Anuak which will be very useful when supporting newcomers in Sandwell. You are more than welcome to contact us if you need our help. .
My name is Marta Sobilo. I am Polish and I work for Citizens Advice Sandwell as a Settling Well Community Navigator. I am bilingual – I speak Polish and English. I used to help within my community with day-to-day issues such as filling forms or accessing public services. In this project, I will be supporting newcomers with settling well in the Sandwell area
Hi, my name is Shanara Begum, I am a Community Navigator, I speak English and Bengali and my hobbies include going to the cinema and reading lots of books! I have lived in Sandwell all my life, I have been working and also attending community activities, which are a great part of my life. It is really rewarding when you help people
Hello, My name is Hajar; I speak both Farsi & English. My motto is ’working from the heart’ I love being busy and helping others and am looking forward to supporting newcomers to Sandwell. If you need any help to settle in Sandwell feel free to contact us.
Illa engaged with Click Start in January 2019, wanting to
improve her confidence online to better enable her to apply for jobs, complete
cover letters, and use her email account.
Illa wanted to return to work as quickly as possible and
after attending several sessions was successful in gaining voluntary work as an
interpreter. Due to Illa being interested in working with the public she was
signposted to attend Community Support Training with Citizens Advice Sandwell,
which aimed to equip trainees with the skills needed for various community
This gave Illa the opportunity to apply for a Community Navigator role with Citizens Advice Sandwell, on the new Settling Well project. In this role Illa will utilise her multilingual skills to deliver practical advice and hands on support to migrants, such as helping register their children at local schools and doctors, and support adults in finding groups to meet new people and access learning opportunities.
Engagement with Click Start has therefore not only helped Illa improve her confidence online but also provided the opportunity for her to take part in training which resulted in her employment with the organisation.
Adrian was referred to Click Start in September by his Job Centre Work Coach in Wolverhampton. Adrian had recently lost his job due to ill health and was having difficulty searching for work and managing his Universal Credit account online, with his recent job loss having a detrimental impact on his confidence and wellbeing.
Adrian engaged well
with Digital Coach Jan and proved himself to be a quick learner. He was quickly
able to use his smart phone to set up accounts on job sites, Jan coached Adrian
on how to make changes to his CV and considering his transferrable skills and
tailored his CV to specific vacancies.
Jan quickly saw a
noticeable change in the demeanour of Adrian, who appeared more upbeat about
his prospects of finding work, and got his car back on the road in anticipation
The efforts of both Adrian and our Digital Coach Jan quickly paid off, and Adrian had to cancel a Click Start session so he could attend a job interview. Adrian then got in touch to tell us that he had started work after finding a job in carpentry, and had the following to say about his journey with Click Start.
“It’s amazing how many jobs I was offered once I had sent in a cv rather than a blank email. Thanks for all your help, and patience.”
Published: 11 October 2019
Cancelled Flights and lost luggage drove almost 700,000 views of Citizens Advice guidance last year.
Citizens Advice is offering travellers some guidance and advice when your holiday plans meet a problem.
There are also some top tips to help your holidays run more smoothly.
Lots of useful information on :
Airline goes under
Follow the link below for more details and stories and those important Top Tips.
Mobile Phone Users can now SWITCH providers with one simple text
Previously customers had to phone their mobile phone provider when they wanted to switch to a new firm.
They were then given a porting authorisation code ( PAC ) code to give to the new provider if they wanted to keep the same phone number
But watchdog Ofcom says the need to SPEAK to a provider was one of the main factors stopping people from switching and customers often find themselves dealing with unwanted attempts by companies trying to persuade them to stay.
How to Switch by Text
1. Customers who want to SWITCH and keep their existing phone number text “PAC “ to 65075 to begin the process.
2. Their existing provider will respond by text within a minute.
3. They will be sent their switching code (PAC), which will be valid for 30 days.
4. The provider’s reply must also include important information about early termination charges or pay-as-you-go credit balances.
5. The customer then gives the code to their new provider and this company must arrange for the SWITCH to be complete within one working day.
6. While most people want to keep their mobile phone number, about one in six do not. These customers can text “STAC” to 75075 to request a “service termination authorisation code.
Published: 1 October 2019
What is persistent debt?
Persistent debt applies to your credit card balance. If you’ve paid more in interest, charges and fees than you have repaid on your credit card balance over an 18-month period, you’ll be classified as being in persistent debt. Then your credit card provider has to get in touch with you to let you know and offer you help.
They also have to:
ask you to consider whether you can afford to repay more quickly
make you aware of the potential implications of continuing with low repayments which can include the possibility that your card could be suspended, and possible impacts on your credit file
let you know that if you cannot afford to repay more quickly, you can get in touch with them to discuss your circumstances so that they can help or, if necessary, you can get free debt advice.
I’m making minimum repayments, isn’t that enough?
Minimum repayments are set by credit card companies subject to minimum legal requirements. It’s the smallest amount the credit card company is happy to let you pay back per month. Paying only the minimum repayment over the short term can help you spread the cost of more expensive items. But minimum repayments long term become an expensive way to repay your debt.
Here’s the example in a table compared to paying back £150, £175 and £200 every month. These are worked out assuming you don’t spend any more using the credit card.
Interest paid in total
Total paid back
How long it takes to repay the £5,000 loan
Minimum payment – First month £132.92, reducing every month after
18 years 10 months
£150 every month, fixed
4 years 1 month
£175 every month, fixed
3 years 4 months
£200 every month, fixed
2 years 9 months
The easiest way to deal with being contacted by your bank or credit card company is to increase your repayment to a level that’s still affordable for you. Making small changes can save you hundreds or thousands of pounds.
Don’t think of it as a demand for money.
New rules mean credit card companies have to let you know when you could save money by changing how you’re paying back your credit card bill. It’s also a chance to look at your credit card balance and see if it’s costing you more than you want.
However, if you don’t do anything or haven’t sufficiently increased your repayments on your credit card after a further 18-month period, your credit card provider has to help you by offering ways of repaying more quickly, such as proposing a repayment plan.
If you don’t get in touch with them, can’t afford to repay your credit card debt faster or decline a repayment plan, you could have your credit card suspended.
Always Good to Talk speak to your bank about the best option for you
Compare Domestic Energy Suppliers Customer Service
HOW GOOD IS YOUR ENERGY SUPPLIER? Citizens Advice launches new energy tool which ranks firms based on customer service
Price isn’t the only thing to think about when choosing an energy supplier. It might be worth choosing a supplier that gets the fewest complaints, or one that’s easy to contact – even if they’re a bit more expensive.
To help you make that choice, we’ve compared suppliers across 5 different categories and ranked them according to how good their customer service is.
We’ve given them an overall rating out of 5 – 1 being poor and 5 being excellent..We have measured Complaints, Ease of Contact, Bill clarity, Ease of switching and Switch guarantee to give an overall score.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We hope the tool will encourage suppliers to improve their level of customer service with customers now able to scrutinise their performance across a range of different service factors – from complaints to ease of switching “ Follow our link below
BT Basic is a low-cost service for people on low incomes who may otherwise find it difficult to afford a home phone line.
BT Basic (line rental and calls) costs £5.10 a month including a call allowance of £1.50.
BT Basic + Broadband: line rental and broadband cost £9.95 a month including a call allowance of £1.50.
Monthly price cap. BT Basic customers can now make as many calls as they like to local and national numbers (starting with 01, 02 and 03), UK mobile numbers (starting with 07) or 08 numbers and pay a maximum of £10 a month. This means that customers will not pay any more than £15.10 a month for line rental and calls (subject to fair use and keeping within the eligible call types for the call allowance and price cap). The £10 price cap is automatically given to all BT Basic customers.
Option of monthly billing to help with budgeting.
To get BT Basic, applicants must be getting one of these means-tested benefits:
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Pensions Credit (Guaranteed Credit)
Employment and Support Allowance (Income related)
Universal Credit (and on zero earnings).
Different benefits with similar names exist, so please check carefully.
To apply for BT Basic, customers just need to fill out a one-page form. BT checks directly with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to confirm eligibility.
For more details on BT Basic, to understand the call types included within the call allowance, the price cap or the application process, go to bt.com/btbasicdeal where you can also download a booklet on the scheme.
Eligible customers can get a BT Basic application form by calling 0800 085 7478.