History of Citizens Advice Haringey
Initially a service delivered by the Town Clerk’s Department Citizens Advice Haringey, under various different guises, has been at the heart of providing support to residents of Haringey since 1966.
In early 1968 Haringey was able to call upon the support of two Advice Bureaux, one situated in Hornsey and the other in Tottenham. Each Bureaux was staff by an Advice Officer and an Assistant Advice Officer.
The responsibility of the advice service was then taken over by the newly formed department of Housing and Community Services and as demand grew over time so did staff numbers.
In 1974, following the issues in Cyprus a Bureau was established in Turnpike Lane, where a Bureau would remain until 2016. This Bureau was initially funded by Local Authority and Government sources and was required to include language subsidies.
In 1975, the Haringey Civic Centre would house the new Wood Green Advice Bureau.
Over the years the service developed and staff numbers continued to increase. A number of advisers who spoke additional languages were recruited, and the Bureaux were now able to issue advice to different community groups including those who spoke Turkish, Greek and Bengali among other languages.
Two full time interpreters were also employed by the Local Authority to ensure that the needs of the community could be better met.
During the 1980’s advice sessions begun to be delivered at Community Centres across the borough, including the Women’s Centre in Wightman Road and the Cypriot Community Centre in Wood Green.
As time moved on the Bureaux began to deliver more project based work. These projects initially included; LSC Immigration and Benefits, Reaping the Benefits, a housing project which focused on Bedroom Tax, Disability First, work with Homes for Haringey, Children’s Centres, Health Hubs and Mental Health focused outreaches at St Ann’s Hospital and Canning Crescent.
In 2015, in line with Citizens Advice rebranding across the UK; Haringey Citizens Advice Bureaux became Citizens Advice Haringey.
In 2016 the organisation moved from its Bruce Grove and Turnpike Lane sites and condensed into one site, the present site in Waltheof Gardens N17, a stone’s throw from Lordship Lane.
In more recent times Lottery funded projects like MoneyWise Haringey and Crutch Haringey have seen the offer broaden to providing more practical solutions to local residents living in financial hardship.
The Crutch Haringey project was the driving force behind the Community Lunch initiative, which feeds some of the boroughs most vulnerable individuals and continues to be delivered by the Antwerp Arms Association.
The project also led on the development of the Tottenham Town Hall based Tottenham Food bank, co-founded by Freedoms Ark UK and affiliated with the Trussell Trust.
In 2019, The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) invested £39 million into the Universal Credit ‘Help to Claim’ service, advisers are on hand to support first time Universal Credit claimants via telephone or webchat, with the latter being a first for Citizens Advice Haringey.
Further project work has enabled the reach of the service to grow significantly. Pound Advice, a debt service delivered especially for L&Q tenants, Haringey Council’s EU Settled Status Scheme delivered in partnership with Bridge Renewal Trust and the Home Office’s Windrush Compensation Scheme support service are just a few of the projects currently being delivered.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the entire service switching to remote delivery in a 24 hours, the day before the government announced a national lockdown. Despite the lockdown advice continued to be issued 5 days a week during this period from the homes of advisers via the dedicated Advice Line.
The ‘new normal’ which is to be expected as a result of the pandemic has led the organisation to once again look at how it can best serve the local community without compromising the quality of advice being issued. New strategies are currently being implemented to ensure this is done.