Due to the National lockdown restrictions, we will not be offering face to face appointments for the immediate future However you can still contact us for advice by calling Advice Line 0300 330 9017 or by Webchat -via the website
For debt advice contact us by calling Adviceline or by Webchat or by calling our new direct Debt support number for Sandwell 0121 726-6745 and for Walsall 01922 700 600 option1
For Universal Credit support contact 0800 144 8444, You can also put a card through our doors at Cradley Heath, Oldbury, and West Bromwich and someone will contact you.
Our mobile advice unit CASSIE will be available, but we will only be offering a limited service, please see our weekly timetable on the get more help tab on the top of the page for daily updates.
Universal Credit has replaced many benefits such as Housing Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (ESA). If you have recently been told that you need to make a claim for Universal Credit then we can help you.
Find what you need
Help you start, manage and submit a claim
Point you in the right direction if you need any further help
You can get help from us in a number of ways. You can call our Help to Claim Advice Line number:
My name is Yoto and I started as an HTC Adviser in April 2019. I am very proud to work for Citizens Advice Sandwell as well as to be part of this amazing team. Helping people is very rewarding so I enjoy every minute here
Hi, my name is Emma and I started working for Help to Claim in March 2019. I enjoy my role as I am able to offer people the support and advice they need to help improve their situation. It’s always nice to meet new people and know you have had a positive impact on their lives
Hi, I am Aaron. I started at Citizens Advice Sandwell as a generalist volunteer in 2017, I then started working as a Help to Claim adviser in February 2019. I am currently working as the Best Practice Lead for the Black Country District as part of the Help to Claim service. My role is to gather local insight into how the roll-out of Universal Credit is working across the district and highlight any prevalent issues faced by local Citizens Advice and external stakeholders. Another part of my role is to part-take in local and national research projects into various aspects of Universal Credit and the Help to Claim service, these findings are shared with the Department for Work and Pensions and National Citizens Advice
Hi, I’m Kevin. I have been with HTC for nearly a year and I was also previously a generalist adviser for 1 year. I enjoy the role of HTC because it gives me the chance to help people from the community and also my chance to give back.
Hi, my name is Sam. I have been an HTC adviser since July 2019. I started out as a volunteer for Citizens Advice and have now moved into a paid role with the HTC team. I take great pride in the service we provide to clients some of which are in desperate need of assistance. To see that I can help to solve their issues gives me a great sense of satisfaction and pride in the work this team completes. I enjoy working with a helpful and supportive team in which we all come together and get the best possible results for our clients.
My name is Liam. I have worked for HTC Sandwell since January 2019. My favorite part of this role is supporting our clients on a day to day basis. Ensuring they’re aware of their rights and are aware of all the support we can offer. It is incredibly gratifying when a client thanks you for helping them to sort their issues and knowing that they leave feeling more confident and assured.
Hi, I’m Oran. I’ve been working with the Help to Claim since July 2019. I love empowering clients and ensuring that they get the support that they’re entitled to. The best thing about this is seeing their relief when they understand that they have a way through at least some of their issues
I have been with the HTC team since January 2019. I enjoy working for the HTC team because it gives me the satisfaction with helping others, we are based at jobcentres you can see daily people struggling with UC, and being present at job centres it just helps the client to feel at ease with our support. Also, the HTC team are like my second family, we support & look out for each other as and when needed.
I joined Citizens Advice – Help to Claim team in June 2020. I’m excited to be supporting our clients with information, advice, and guidance on any Universal Credit queries and I’m also looking forward to working with external organisations and the team here in Sandwell.
My name’s Kit and I’ve been with the Help to Claim team at Citizens Advice since June 2020. I am looking forward to helping clients and making a difference to those who need it most.
My name is Richard and I am one of the new Help to Claim Advisers for CA Sandwell. Before this, I was a volunteer Generalist Adviser at the Cradley Heath locality for almost 2 years, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have been fortunate enough to move into a more specialist advisory role on Universal Credit, which has allowed me to continue helping some of the most vulnerable people in society.
My name is Rachael and I am the Help to Claim Supervisor/Manager. I have worked for CA Sandwell for 12 years and have been in this role since January 2019. I am passionate about helping people and providing the highest quality service possible.
Hi, my name is Leigh. In June 2020, I transferred from the Click Start team as a Project Manager to manage the Help to Claim team. I am enjoying learning in greater depth what the team does and I look forward to working with them moving forward.
We are urging the UK to start talking about money now to avoid harm to people’s overall wellbeing.
47 million adults across the UK don’t find it easier to talk money or don’t discuss at all
Look at these facts if you need anymore evidence to encourage people to
Talk about Money
Nine in ten people still do not find it easier to talk about finances during the Covid-19 pandemic or do not discuss money with anyone at all
Those who find having money conversations harder due to Covid-19 say the reason they avoid them is because their financial situation causes them anxiety or stress and they don’t want to make others worry about them
Coping with new circumstances is a barrier to talking about money. People claiming benefits or anticipating they will need to in the next 6 months due to Covid-19 are almost three times more likely to find having money conversations harder than the UK average.
So far, only 1 in 6 people say they have asked others about their financial situation because they are worried about them, suggesting there could be an opportunity for family and friends to step up in acting as money supporters for their loved ones.
However, of the minority of people who said they have found it easier to talk about their finances as a result of Covid-19, nearly a third say they do it because they feel better after discussing financial concerns.
As we rethink how we live our everyday lives in the wake of Covid-19, this is an opportunity for people to start opening up about money matters. Whether that’s with an expert, or the people closest to you, talking is a great first step towards managing financial issues and can often make things feel less daunting.
Our Super Six Tips for people to enable them to open up about their money worries during the pandemic:
Choose who you open up to – Try not to have preconceptions about who you should have these conversations with. Some people might think these are issues to keep in the family but actually some people might find it easier to speak to a professional or a colleague, or someone who may not be directly impacted by your money worries, like a friend or professional.
Create a comfortable setting – It will help if you feel as comfortable as possible and your environment can hugely affect this. You might feel more at ease chatting in a kitchen setting, taking in some fresh air as you go for a walk or at your dining room table so you can lay out and refer to relevant papers or budgets. Ensure you won’t be interrupted as this could interfere with your train of thought; put your phones on silent or if you have kids, wait till they’re asleep.
Prepare how you’re going to kick it off – Sometimes the hardest part of having a conversation is knowing how to start it. Once you’re past the first few seconds, you might be surprised by how easily the conversation flows. Build confidence by practising your opening sentence; something as simple as, “I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?” or “‘I’d like to talk to you about [blank], but first I’d like to get your point of view” can really help.
Listen as well as talk – Try to make sure you go into the discussion with an open mind, being prepared to take in the other person’s point of view. Listen to each other as much as possible. Hearing one another’s standpoint in a respectful manner can make the difference between having a constructive conversation versus an unproductive argument.
Tie into the news agenda – Covid-19 is dominating news channels and will do for the foreseeable future as new schemes are announced and news on the financial effects are reported. If you see a news bulletin relevant to your situation, use this as a springboard to initiate a conversation – it’s a useful way to break the ice and remember many people are in the same boat right now.
Check in with friends and family – Once you’ve made the first step to opening up about your financial worries, you can help others to do the same. Never force someone into a conversation as they’ll only be defensive, but do remind them you’re here to chat if they need support, in person or on a call.
Pre-pandemic, we knew that people with mental health problems struggled to manage their financial wellbeing and access essential services, including financial services, water, energy, and telecoms problems and could be exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.
People with pre-existing mental health problems risk their condition deteriorating as they navigate challenges without much-needed help from loved ones or professionals.
Growing numbers of people start to experience poor mental health, distress and anxiety, which could in turn lead to struggles managing money and a fear of contacting essential service providers.
Many will struggle with the double whammy of reduced income and higher bills from being at home more.
To support essential service providers and their front-line staff, The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute have put together a list of eight urgent standards that organisations can adopt right now
not disconnecting people from essential services writing to customers to let them know what support is available
making it easier to get in touch remotely by increasing webchat capacity
and offering callbacks
telling customers on websites and telephone on-hold messages, things like, which documents they’ll need, what questions might be asked, how else people can get in touch and what the likely wait time is
breaking down information into manageable sections and waiting while customers write it down
helping customers stay in control of their spending by having easy to use spending caps or blocks on certain types of spending
signposting to additional support services
Please take a look at the The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (link above) and see if there is anything you can use to help the people you care for.
Staying happy, healthy and safe- Missing Friends and Family Members
I have shared some great ideas that I saw on aGo Play Sandwell document
At the moment, things might feel very strange; you might be really missing seeing and being with your friends or family members who don’t live with you. But by staying safe at home, we can keep our family and friends safe too. If you are missing your friends and family, some of the ideas below might help you to stay in touch.
I have had a go at this
Make a list of your favourite friends and family phone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses.
Sharing is caring: remember to tell someone that you live with about how you feel.
Write a letter, poem or rap to a friend or a family member telling them why they are a good friend/relative to you and what you miss most about not being able to spend time with them. You could also share your favourite memories of times you spent together. Parents can post letters when they do an essential shop.
Plan a list of activities that you want to do with your friends when you can see each other again.
Create a collage of photos of your friends and families; if you don’t have any photos draw them instead!
Arrange to watch things on TV or online with your friends and then call them to chat about what you thought of it on phone or gaming device.
Set up a weekly challenge (remember to stay safe online!) Create a list of activities between your friends and yourselves. Share the photos and vote for the best response. Some examples could includeA weekly bake-off challenge and then post pictures of your efforts. -A garden/home treasure hunt. Have a start-stop time and post pictures of the things you have found Have an online karaoke party Hold a book club and choose one book to read each week. Think of one question each about the book and have an online discussion. Choose a time to all visit an online zoo and then talk to one another about your experience.
Keep a journal: just a sentence or a picture a day about how you feel, what you did so you can share it with friends or family later.
Sharing memories about my family start a family tree; this is a great way to share memories of our family members, have a look at family photos (both digital and physical). Make a list of your family members and all come up with a positive thing about them and write it next to their name. You can do this with your friends on social media too. Make a keepsake box of tickets, receipts, photos, trinkets – things that make memories of your family member. Draw a picture with yourself in the middle and your family members around you write a positive thing that links you to each member.
Choose a day to have a family picnic in the garden or a carpet picnic in the house and ask your other family members to do the same and share the fun on your video phones.
It’s always a good idea to do a budget but at this difficult time we all should all do an “emergency budget” whether that’s a full spreadsheet or on the back of an envelope, or one of our online planners, anything is better than nothing.
It’s not always much fun but you will be pleased you did it once it’s all over
This is what a colleague sent me earlier this week ………………..
“From our own situations, we are having to shop and support both sets of elderly parents and have had to use more expensive corner shops to get their shopping as the supermarkets were not safe to go near, I’m sure there’ll be others like us doing the same which will have a massive impact on budgets.”
There are some great online budget planners which work really well and in this time of home curfews perhaps we have a little more time to have a go!