Citizens Advice Lewisham (CAL) is the lead agency in Advice Lewisham, a network of the main free advice providers in the borough.
This partnership comprises the following organisations:
- Age UK Lewisham & Southwark
- 170 Community Project
- Lewisham Multilingual Advice Service
- Lewisham Refugee & Migrant Network
Together, the partnership staffs the Lewisham Advice Line telephone service and meets regularly to co-ordinate and improve local advice services. Advice Lewisham regularly surveys its clients in order to understand their experience of the service. In January 2019, CAL hosted the first Advice Lewisham Client Forum and set up an ongoing Client Reference Group, in order for the partners to hear first-hand how clients think the service could be developed.
Lewisham Law Service (LLS)
LLS is a partnership between CAL and Southwark Law Centre, giving disadvantaged clients access to free, high quality, specialist legal advice.
Unusually for Inner London, Lewisham does not have its own Law Centre. As a result of the continued reduction in public funding to support individuals with legal issues, access to specialist advice is often out of reach for disadvantaged residents.
Clients are referred to LLS by CAL and Advice Lewisham partners, as well as external agencies.
Lewisham as ‘sanctuary borough’
Citizens Advice Lewisham supports the grassroots campaign for Lewisham to be designated a ‘sanctuary borough’, ensuring the protection of rights for all migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We participate in the cross-sector Lewisham Migrant Forum.
If you wish to attend the Forum, hosted by Voluntary Action Lewisham (VAL), tickets are made available via the following link: valewisham.org.uk/events
More information on the work of City of Sanctuary UK can be found on their website: cityofsanctuary.org
Research and Campaigns
CAL undertakes research and campaign work in order to influence local and national policy, and is an active member of Lewisham Council’s Housing Forum and local Mental Health and Homelessness Advisory Groups.
Money and Debt Advice services
CAL receives targeted funding for debt services from Capitalise, L&Q and Phoenix Community Housing. Clients receive a comprehensive service (primarily face-to-face), including assistance with approaching creditors and bailiffs, budgeting, and a review of their benefits.
The Capitalise service provides advice and casework for those in Lewisham who are experiencing debt issues.
Phoenix and L&Q are Housing Associations with a significant local presence and CAL offers debt advice to their tenants, either via referral from the Housing Association, or self-referral.