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A Living Tradition CIC Gateshead Roma Kavárna Project Report for May 2019

We have made good progress in our work during the month of May.  There was a claimant asking about a Housing Benefit enquiry, regarding which benefits entitle somebody to claim Housing Benefit  There was a query regarding the HMRC.  We had an enquiry about health issues of a child born with a kidney problem and issues around going to school and the client's child falling often and getting very tired and cold - the mother was hoping for Disability Living Allowance.  There was a Universal Credit Enquiry. We also had another passport enquiry from a member of the community, anticipating what would be needed with regards to gaining Settled Status after Brexit.

We had a query about a court order and a phone call for expenditure forms and had to explain that they couldn't pay the amount asked for and to reduce the payments and enquiry about working for Northumbria Police and contacting the Czech embassy about a passport and sending emails.  We also had a letter from a school to be translated about taking a child to the opticians. There was a form to be filled-in for school dinners to see if they were eligible.   

There was an enquiry about a water bill and another enquiry regarding the HMRC.  There was a client who had a debt enquiry about water, electricity and gas bills. They were priority debts. There were other enquiries  about a water blll, who needed a letter to explain only carer's allowance as income and she could be eligible for discount. There was a lady who enquired about PIP and they will be in touch. 

We have also had the excellent  support of Citizens Advice Gateshead's Money Advice worker and their Social Welfare worker.  This was to help a client with a complicated debt issue. The client was helped with putting together a financial plan to help him reduce his debts, including looking at ways by which he could save money and maximise income.We had another client who had debt issues regarding HMRC and Self-Assessment forms.

Members of the community have also come and enjoyed the convivial atmosphere at the kavarna.  

We have also taken our community development work further this month. We had a very productive visit to Kelvingrove Primary School and a meeting with the Headteacher. It was agreed that we should try and get the Roma pupils involved in the Homework Club at St Chad's. It was also decided that we could provide training for the staff about the Roma community. It was agreed that it might be good to contact a teaching union to help take things further and that we could translate other materials for the school.  A translation of information regarding the Homework Club was sent to Kelvingrove Primary School.

We have followed up the schools work, including working together with local schools and a teaching union to put together a strategy to help teachers who work with pupils from an Eastern European background. Progress on this strategy has been made.  

On 28th May, we held a successful and well-attended Money Advice session at Cumbric on Coatsworth Road.  We explained to members of the Roma community what services NE First Credit Union could offer them and provided them with application forms.  This is part of our general policy to help members of the community to have choice and control over their lives.

We were also provided with leaflets by Gateshead Carers about a short free course for Gateshead women called 'Where Next?'  This course could help women from the Roma community to learn about how to make the most of their money, while living on a tight budget, discover how and where you can volunteer locally to build skills and self-confidence, be supported by a local mentor to think through their goals and options and get involved in short work experience sessions and learn new skills.  It has been arranged for these leaflets to be translated into Czech to help the members of the community to learn about the course.

We have continued to give out free food kindly donated by Greggs.

Many thanks again to Greggs, Citizens Advice Gateshead.  NE First Credit Union, Northumbria Police, Gateshead Council and the Allen Lane Foundation.

Peter Sagar, Company Secretary, A Living Tradition CIC, and Irma Karchnakova, interpreter and worker, June 2019

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