Advocacy Service

The demand for advocacy remains constant, with clients dipping into the service for one-off guidance and assistance when attending the Drop-in. The team also provides longer-term on-going casework support when needed and can see people at the Marah office if required. Partnership working is an important aspect of the work, with clients being referred to partner agencies such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or drug/alcohol services when appropriate. When these referrals are made, support is still provided to the client to ensure that the referral is effective for them.

The advocacy team, led by Mark Polgrean-Smith, recorded 254 advocacy contacts over the past year. The assistance given ranges from benefits advice and appeals, arranging hospital/GP appointments and transport to these, help completing forms, referrals to supported accommodation, debt advice, and homelessness prevention. The trust that has been built up with many of our clients over time encourages them to seek help when needed and helps prevent many from reaching a crisis point in their lives.

The advocacy team are also responsible for the giving out of Marah emergency food packs. These go out to Marah clients in urgent need of food. The packs are provided by Stroud District Foodbank but donations towards the make-up of these are made by the DASH initiative and also a grant from the Co-operative Membership Community Fund. Marah’s packs provide basic food for 3 days for a single person and are also distributed by Envoy Emma Jones from the Salvation Army Citadel. A total of 255 packs were given out in the past year.