Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Advice E-Newsletter , August 2011


Guidance on employing refugees and asylum seekers

The Refugee Council welcomes the publication of crucial new guidance on employing refugees and asylum seekers by the UK Border Agency. The booklet, Guidance for employers on illegal working: refugees and asylum seekers, gives employers clear information on the documentation checks they need to carry out when recruiting refugees and asylum seekers, and also includes details of the employment rights of refugees, the bespoke documentation they are issued with in place of a national passport, and how refugees differ from other foreign nationals in the UK.

Immigration and Asylum:

New multilingual telephone advice service begins
From Monday 20 June 2011, the Refugee Council will start operating the free and confidential Own-Language Telephone Advice Service (OLTAS). We will no longer provide a ‘drop in’ service and our current telephone advice will be transferred to OLTAS. This service is already successfully operating in our Birmingham office
Limited leave creates barriers for those wanting to rebuild their lives
Refugee Council publishes briefing on applying for indefinite leave


Social Fund
1. The Social Fund (SF) is a scheme to help people with needs which are difficult to meet from regular income. It is made up of two distinct parts:
  • a regulated scheme which provides entitlement to maternity, funeral, cold weather and winter fuel payments for people who satisfy certain qualifying conditions
  • a discretionary scheme under which people may be eligible in certain circumstances for a:
  • Community Care Grant (CCG) - to meet, or help to meet, a need for community care
  • Budgeting Loan (BL) - to meet, or help to meet, an intermittent expense
  • Crisis Loan (CL) - to meet, or help to meet, an immediate short term need
2. This guide deals with discretionary payments only.


Incapacity Benefit

Incapacity Benefit (IB) is the main benefit paid to people who cannot work as a result of a health condition or disability

Budget 2011 - benefits and tax credits

The Chancellor confirmed that Child Tax Credit is to increase by £255 for low income families. Also, find out about the changes to benefit and tax credits that will come into force from the beginning of April announced in the June 2010 Budget.

Important changes to Housing Benefit

There are important changes to Local Housing Allowance from April 2011. These changes will affect people getting Housing Benefit, who pay rent to a private landlord.

Impact of changes to Local Housing Allowance from 2011

Budget June 2010 - benefits and tax credits
The Budget announced changes to payments and the way you claim Child Benefit, Child and Working Tax Credit, Disability Living Allowance and Housing Benefit. Child Benefit is frozen for three years. If you're a lone parent you're encouraged to return to work once your children are in school.

Changes affecting Housing Benefit, Local Housing Allowance, and Council Tax Benefit

The government has changed some of the rules which apply to Housing Benefit (including Local Housing Allowance) and Council Tax Benefit. More details are listed below. Most of the changes take effect from April 2011, although some people who already get benefit may not be affected straight away. Some of the changes limit or reduce the amount of benefit that the council can pay. If you get Housing Benefit, or are thinking of applying for it, or moving home, you need to consider these changes to LHA before you renew or make a new tenancy agreement with a private landlord.
In addition, the government has also announced proposals for major changes to the welfare benefits system in later years. These will affect most other benefits and allowances as well as those mentioned above.

Benefits: Welfare Reform Bill 2011

On 16 February 2011 the Welfare Reform Bill was introduced to Parliament. The Bill legislates for the biggest change to the welfare system for over 60 years. It introduces a wide range of reforms that will deliver the commitment made in the Coalition Agreement and the Queen’s Speech to make the benefits and tax credits systems fairer and simpler by:
• creating the right incentives to get more people into work by ensuring work always pays
• protecting the most vulnerable in our society
• delivering fairness to those claiming benefit and to the taxpay

Advice Guides:

Working with Black and Minority Ethnic Communities: A guide for Stop Smoking Service managers
Information for Black and minority ethnic voluntary and community organisations
Asian Women, Domestic Violence and Mental Health A Toolkit for Health Professionals

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Our Vision and Services

Our vision is of a society where no one should experience discrimination on the grounds of their mental health.

Mental health problems are extremely common across society, with one in four of us experiencing them in any year. Despite being so common, people from all communities will still experience discriminatory attitudes and behaviours that can prevent people from speaking out, seeking support and playing full and active roles in our communities. The impact of mental health stigma and discrimination will vary between communities as mental health has a cultural context that affects the way communities talk about the subject and engage with people who have mental health problems. In some cultures depression, for example, doesn't exist and in others an experience of a mental health problem can be attached to a sense of shame.

For the African and Caribbean communities a key issue is the overrepresentation of young African and Caribbean men in mental health services. Misconceptions and stereotypes have led to a perception that this group is more likely to pose a risk of violent behaviour and, as a result, they are more likely to be treated as inpatients and sectioned when compared to other groups. It is well documented that this has led to a fear of talking about mental health issues more openly and a fear of using mental health services. Research by the Race Equality Foundation (2011) also highlighted fears that discrimination against Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and migrant service users will increase in the austerity climate and whilst commissioning arrangements change.

Our Services

· Provide information, advice, advocacy

· Represent diversity communities in Health Care services, policies and strategies

· Organise training in health and social care in collaboration with local colleges

· Provide human resources ( including interpreters) who are suitable to the diversity communities especially to break language and cultural barriers

· Provides domiciliary care and support

· Provide services such specialised support for people with mental health needs, including people who suffer from short-term memory problems, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

· Provide visits to elderly people and help them with outings and home services

· Participate in local authority and NHS consultations , research events and programmes to voice the needs of diversity communities.

· Increase access to services and rights for disadvantaged people and the most vulnerable of our society

· Help and support unemployed people to look for work, including training and job preparation

· Provide legal advice in a range of issues from on Immigration and Asylum , welfare benefits, housing, health, education, community care, and training, employment, etc.

· Provide advice and guidance, information and practical help so that our service users can access opportunities they are entitled to

· Organise training and other community learning opportunities that provide new skills, increase confidence and motivation

· Support our service users to overcome barriers to learning, employment and training

· Provide support for young people with their education, training, confidence building, employment and social needs.

Objectives of our Diversity Living Programme:

· To promote the inclusion and participation of diversity communities* in integrated care.

· To inform policy, locally and nationally, and assisting in the formulation of effective policies, strategies and good practices in integrated care in order to contribute to improved health outcomes for the people from the diversity communities (e.g. Black and minority ethnic communities) and to ensure health services are able to meet their specific needs.

· To improve the quality of life for diversity people with disability, mental health problems and their families and carers through integrated care by providing inclusive advocacy and information.

· To provide service that enable diversity groups and individuals with disability /elderly and their carers to make the right choice for themselves and have an influence on decisions made about their future.

· To promote the rights of diversity people with disability, their families and carers and make sure their rights are safe and protected.

· To promoting access to information regarding healthcare issues and to raise awareness of the needs of diversity disabled children, young people, older people and their families.

· To promote the rights of older and disabled diversity people, helping them overcome and enable them to participate in decisions about their future

· To provide support and information to those suffering the isolation and loneliness that can be associated with disability and old age

· To fight against mental health stigma in refugee, black and minority ethnic communities and ensure no one should experience discrimination on the grounds of their mental health or disability.

*Diversity communities are older people, disabled people, Black, Asian, refugees, migrants, asylum seekers and other ethnic minorities.