We work closely with two services which we believe exemplify the advice and support model: CASS Plus in Devon and Cornwall and Community Advice in Highbury, north London.
CASS Plus is an independent charity which offers advice services in three courts in Devon and Cornwall: Bodmin, Truro and Plymouth. The service began life as an independent service at Bodmin Magistrates’ Court in 2005. It expanded to Plymouth in 2009 as part of the community court pilot there and to Truro in 2012.
In 2015, we published an analysis of the activity at CASS Plus’s Plymouth site. We found that in a 12 month period the service saw 469 clients in 1100 appointments. The most common needs identified were debt, criminal justice issues and housing. The volunteers provided immediate practical assistance such as help with forms of phone calls to agencies in 47% of cases and referrals to ongoing support such as drug treatment in 30% of cases.
Community advice provides advice and support offer to people using Highbury Corner Magistrates Court. It works with offenders on a voluntary basis to:
- Help them find out about and access long-term support services such as alcohol treatment, community mental health services or supported housing
- Provide immediate help with practical issues such as benefit claims or outstanding fines, and offer emotional support.
In its first year of operation, the service worked with more 850 people, helping them to tackle problems such as housing, debt and benefits. In its first year, two thirds of people contacted after six months reported that their issues had been resolved.