Bradford CLASP: BME advice needs working group
Notes of meeting on 17th November 2003
ATTENDANCE: Lalitha (Researcher), Robina (Girlington Advice Centre &
CLASP Board), Zahida (Social Services Welfare Rights Team), Goerge (Bradford
City PCT & CLASP Board), Nick (LSC & CLASP Board)
AIMS OF MEETING: to clarify further research needed and to consider the
report’s recommendations and suggest priorities for action to CLASP Board
FURTHER RESEARCH: it was agreed that contact with African communities was
needed. Lalitha is willing to conduct the face to face work (interview/focus group)
but needs the CLASP to set up the contacts. We understand that CD&LL have a
community involvement (CI) worker dedicated to liaison with African communities.
Other useful contact may be BIASAN (refugee group) contactable via Bradford
Resource Centre (01274 779002).
Action: Nick to contact Dave P re funding for further research and re CD&LL
community involvement worker to establish contacts.
REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS: the group considered all the recommendations
in the report and what type of action might be taken. Action in connection with
some of the recommendations were grouped into key themes.
1) Publicity and communications strategy: this has emerged as a priority need
for the CLASP as a whole and is particularly relevant to ensuring BME
communities are aware of the help available with legal rights.
Action: CLASP Board to consider publicity and communications strategy
and lead person/s in 2004
Hard to reach groups: the strategy must understand how best to ensure
information reaches particular excluded groups and adopt best practice in
reaching them. Key groups highlighted are:
! South Asian women (especially those who have more recently moved to
UK and from orthodox Muslim communities)
! Older people from east European communities
! Filipino and African communities (including settled refugees)
Action: Lalitha to supply contact details of Cora Browning at BRI to Nick to
ensure housing advice agencies and CAB can make contact.
The strategy also needs to consider how these groups could use proposed
national telephone advice services (benefit, debt, education) from July 2004.
CLS Quality Mark: a key message for the strategy will be the CLS logo and
Quality Mark. The former should be prominently displayed in Quality Marked
agencies windows and its meaning needs to become widely understood by the
public. The fact that Quality Marked agencies are assessed independently should
provide reassurance to the public about the service they can expect.
BCLASP: BME research working group, 17 November ’03 1
Types of services available – free and legal aid: some general awareness raising
is needed about the different types of Quality Marked services available. That is,
what level advice can be given about what types of problems and whether the
service is guaranteed to be free or may be reduced cost through legal aid.
Local CLS Directory: the updated local CLS Directory must address these issues.
It should also include reference to the JustAsk website (national CLS Directory of
services and ‘user-friendly’ legal rights information) and proposed national
telephone advice services. Question: should it also have the title and a basic
explanation of how to use the Directory, website and telephone advice services in
key community languages?
2) Signposting and referrals system: need to ensure people access the most
appropriate advice service for their needs as quickly and simply as possible.
There is a limited amount that can be achieved by public education and it is
inevitable that clients will sometimes seek advice about issues that the initial
agency cannot deal with.
It is vital that an agreed signposting and referral system is used by all CLS service
providers. Accurate and relevant information must be made available to all service
providers and kept up to date – eg languages spoken or interpretation available,
categories of law and levels of advice, opening times and other access routes (eg
Action: CLASP Board to implement common signposting and referrals
system in 2004 (may involve pilot period up to July). Need to ensure
agencies have easy access to all necessary information.
3) Service provision – agencies and venues: Bradford District needs a diversity
of services to provide choice for clients. This is particularly important for South
Asian women as they may need to seek advice ‘anonymously’ and/or at a
distance from home – eg schools and GP practices are more accessible venues
for this client group so confidential advice sessions delivered there are also more
likely to be accessible. It is also important that services for South Asian women
are provided by women – sometimes this best done by South Asian women
(cultural affinity) and sometimes not (perceived lack of confidentiality).
Action: CLASP Board to communicate importance of ongoing provision
funded by PCTs in key GP practices.
4) Service provision – advisers’ skills and language needs: there are some
basic skills needed by all advice workers, eg communication, technical legal
research, advocacy, etc. These should be addressed in training/development of
There are two ways to address language needs: interpreting services and employ
advisers with language skills.
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Interpreting services: language line is available but expensive. There is a project
looking at shared interpreting services across the Council, PCTs and police.
Action: George to check progress of this work, how/when CLASP could
become involved (eg cost implications?) and report back to December
CLASP Board meeting.
Advisers with language skills: two issues arise:
! Recruitment procedures of advice agencies/solicitors, making language
skills ‘essential/desirable’, GOQ posts
! Availability of suitably skilled and trained pool of candidates for jobs –
relates to training and support needs of advice sector as a whole,
particularly voluntary sector.
Action: discuss further with ACSG MC and Nick to report re training support
grants from LSC
5) Sharia law and divorce: specific information was raised in the research about
the need for better understanding among advisers of the complexities of divorce
involving Muslim Sharia law and the possible help available from the Islamic
Action: CLASP to ask Robina and Sue Williscroft to research key issues and
distribute briefing to advice agencies and family law solicitors (as required)
6) Compensation claims: compensation claims for accidents etc were raised a
number of times by respondents to the research. These are not within the scope
of the Community Legal Service so will not generally be advised on by agencies
involved with the CLASP.
Action: Robina to pass on information to the ACSG MC to ensure all advice
agencies are aware of the Law Society’s Accident Line
a) Nick to ensure CLASP commissioning group and Board receive this report
b) CLASP Board to inform all service providers that report is available on website
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