The No One Left Behind (NOLB) project was started by Surrey County Council in April 2022, with a grant awarded to the local Citizens Advice charities across Surrey, including Citizens Advice Woking (CAW).

The broad aim of the project was to reach the most vulnerable clients in the borough and help them with budgeting, debt and benefits advice. 

In practice, the project has evolved to become more specifically about offering our more vulnerable clients the opportunity to work with a caseworker who can support them through their frequently complex and multi-faceted issues.

Often, the clients who are referred to CAW and NOLB have particularly chaotic or problematic life situations which, in the past, have made it hard for them to engage. 

In addition, many of these clients have difficulty trusting people or are apprehensive of meeting new people. The process of building trust with a vulnerable client can take time and persistence and the NOLB project enables us to do just this.

While a large proportion of the issues being dealt with by NOLB are related to debt and benefits, in reality clients can (and do) present with any number of issues spanning every area that CAW covers. The key benefit of the project for the client is that they have one single point of contact who can coordinate across their many issues.

Between April 2022 and March 2023, NOLB dealt with 100 clients, covering a total of 771 issues with an overall income gain of nearly £89,000. Benefits and charitable support top the list of issues, followed closely by debt. Requests for advice on claiming health benefits has been the biggest single issue for us, and about half of our client base have reported disabilities or long-term health issues. 

The clients we work with can typically have long-standing issues of their own, but the combined impact of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis has pushed many to the edge. The project has enabled us to provide focused, longer-term support to some of the most vulnerable in our community. 

Our NOLB caseworkers, Roz and Kirsten, provide one example of a client situation, with complex and multi-layered issues, and the work we do. 

A single parent with five children all living at home; not receiving child maintenance from her ex-partner, unable to work because of ongoing health issues; not claiming health benefits and therefore being benefit capped. She had incurred multiple debts and was also struggling with her housing which was inadequate for her health issues.

We assisted the client in securing Limited Capability for Work Related Activity (LCWRA) on her Universal Credit claim. As a result of gaining LCWRA and its associated benefits, the client’s finances were significantly improved, enabling payment plans for her rent and council tax arrears. We also supported the household with charitable help such as food vouchers and top-ups for energy. 

In addition, the CAW team helped the client in her divorce proceedings, advised her on seeking child maintenance, and enabled her to apply for a transfer to more suitable housing. 

CAW’s services protect the vulnerable through the support we give them and help WBC perform its statutory duties in relation to housing, preventing homelessness, and benefits (housing and council tax).

If you’d like to know more about Citizens Advice Woking, please feel free to visit our website 

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