We collect and use your personal information to help solve your problems, improve our services and tackle wider issues in society that affect people’s lives.
We only ask for the information we need. We always let you decide what you’re comfortable telling us, explain why we need it and treat it as confidential.
When we record and use your personal information we:
- only access it when we have a good reason
- only share what is necessary and relevant
- don’t sell it to anyone
At times we might use or share your information without your permission. If we do, we’ll always make sure there’s a legal basis for it. This could include situations where we have to use or share your information:
- to comply with the law – for example, if a court orders us to share information. This is called ‘legal obligation’
- to protect someone’s life – for example, sharing information with a paramedic if a client was unwell at our office. This is called ‘vital interests’
- to carry out our legitimate aims and goals as a charity – for example, to create statistics for our national research. This is called ‘legitimate interests’
- for us to carry out a task where we’re meeting the aims of a public body in the public interest – for example, delivering a government or local authority service. This is called ‘public task’
- to carry out a contract we have with you – for example, if you’re an employee we might need to store your bank details so we can pay you. This is called ‘contract’
- to defend our legal rights – for example, sharing information with our legal advisors if there was a complaint that we gave the wrong advice
We handle and store your personal information in line with the law – including the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.
You can check the main Citizens Advice policy for how we handle most of your personal information. This page covers how we handle your information locally in our offices.
How Advice Lewisham partner agencies collect your data
Advice Lewisham is a local partnership of advice-giving charities based in Lewisham, made up of Citizens Advice Lewisham, Age UK Lewisham & Southwark, Evelyn 190 Centre, 170 Community Project, Lewisham Multilingual Advice Service, Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network and Carers Lewisham. We will collect your data when you contact our services either by telephone on the Lewisham Adviceline, or face-to-face when you attend an advice appointment or drop in (either at an Advice Lewisham agency office or at outreach locations in the borough, such as Phoenix Community Housing).
We’ll get your permission by asking you to either:
- sign a paper consent form
- tick a box online
- give agreement over the ‘phone (if you call Lewisham Adviceline)
We may record your information on a referral form if we are referring you to another agency. If another agency makes a referral to Advice Lewisham, they may send us your information using a referral form. They’ll get your permission before sending us your information.
What Advice Lewisham partner agencies ask for
We’ll only ask for information that’s relevant to your problem. Depending on what you want help with, this might include:
- your name and contact details – so we can keep in touch with you about your case
- personal information – for example about family, work, or financial circumstances
- details about the what is causing your problems – like housing or benefits
- information like your gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation
If you don’t want to give us certain information, you don’t have to. For example, if you want to stay anonymous we’ll only record information about your problem and make sure you’re not identified.
How Advice Lewisham partner agencies use your information
The main reason we ask for your information is to help solve your problem.
We only access your information for other reasons if we really need to – for example:
- for training and quality purposes
- to investigate complaints
- to get feedback from you about our services
- to help us improve our services
All advisers and staff accessing data have had data protection training to make sure your information is handled sensitively and securely.
Understanding people’s problems
We use some information to create statistics about who we’re helping and what problems are the most common. This information is always anonymised – you can’t be identified.
We share these with funders, regulators, government departments and publicly on our blogs, reports, social media and press releases.
The statistics also inform our policy research, campaigns, or media work.
Working on your behalf
When you give us authority to act on your behalf, for example to help you with a Universal Credit claim, we’ll need to share information with that third party.
Advice Lewisham partner agencies commonly share information with Lewisham Council, the Job Centre, and local housing organisations such as Lewisham Homes, L&Q and Phoenix Community Housing when they act on your behalf.
How Advice Lewisham partner agencies store your information
Whether you get advice face to face, over the phone, by email, our adviser will log all your information, correspondence, and notes about your problem into our secure case management systems called Advice Pro.
Some of your information might also be kept within our secure email and IT systems.
We keep your information for 6 years. If your case has been subject to a serious complaint, insurance claim or other dispute we keep the data for 16 years.
Our case management systems is hosted within the UK.
Most of our trusted partners store their data securely within the European Economic Area (EEA) in line with data protection law.
There might be other places we store your information, depending on how you accessed our advice.
Calling Lewisham Adviceline
If you call us, we’ll record the conversation for training and monitoring purposes.
When you call, you’ll hear a recorded message telling you how we use and store your information – you can let the adviser know if you disagree.
Calls are recorded by our trusted partner, Dataphone. They’ll be deleted after 6 months.
How Advice Lewisham partner agencies share your information
When you contact us we will ask your permission to share your information with all Advice Lewisham partner agencies
This is because we work together and share your information to provide the Advice Lewisham service through the different partner agencies.
With your permission, we might share your information with other organisations so we can:
- help solve your problem – for example, if you ask us to contact your creditors we might need to share your name, address and financial details with them
- refer you quickly to another organisation for more advice, if relevant
- monitor the quality of our services
Organisations we share your data with must store and use your data in line with data protection law.
There might be specific organisations we share your information with, depending on what service you access.
If we refer you to a service not provided by Advice Lewisham partner agencies we will share your information and seek your permission to do this.
We regularly refer from the Lewisham Adviceline to:
- A local housing advice outreach provided by the national SHELTER housing charity
- The Intensive Housing Advice and Support Service provided by One Housing
- Carers Lewisham
- Lewisham Law Service (a project run by Citizens Advice Lewisham and Southwark Law Centre)
We will seek your consent to share your information when we agree to make these referrals with you.
For debt enquiries, we will also share your personal information with our funder.
Who’s responsible for looking after your personal information – Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice Lewisham is a partner agency in Advice Lewisham and also a member of the national Citizens Advice network
The national Citizens Advice charity and your local Citizens Advice also operate a system called Casebook to keep your personal information safe. This means they’re a ‘joint data controller’ for your personal information that’s stored in our Casebook system.
Each local Citizens Advice is an independent charity, and a member of the national Citizens Advice charity. The Citizens Advice membership agreement also requires that the use of your information complies with data protection law.
Contact us about your information
If you have any questions about how your information is collected or used, you can contact our Citizens Advice Lewisham office.
Telephone: 0203 893 4705 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
You can contact us to:
- find out what personal information we hold about you
- correct your information if it’s wrong, out of date or incomplete
- request we delete your information
- ask us to limit what we do with your data – for example, ask us not to share it if you haven’t asked us already
- ask us to give you a copy of the data we hold in a format you can use to transfer it to another service
- ask us stop using your information