Information & Advice

Funded through the Big Lottery’s Advice services Transition Fund, Advice in County Durham is a partnership of local advice providers, committed to working together to improve the provision of advice across County Durham. The partnership aims to provide a seamless service for those seeking advice and enable organisations providing information and advice to work in a more collaborative way for the benefit of all concerned.
With austerity measures and funding cuts leaving more people in need of help and resources available to advice organisations being reduced, the need for new ways of working is greater than ever. The partnership will redesign access routes to advice by joining up the provision in simple pathways that both agencies and clients will understand, to ensure that there is ‘no wrong door’ when it comes to helping clients.
Clients will get a single point referral, easier access, earlier intervention, reduced waiting times and faster emergency response.
Organisations delivering advice will have the opportunity to gain approved centre status as a member of the partnership network, reflecting the level of service delivered.

Sam Scotchbrook– Project Co-ordinator, Advice in County Durham

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel: 0191 3726704

Armstrong House, Abbeywoods Business Park, Durham, DH1 5GH



Training brochure Jan-Mar 2019

We are delighted to announce the new training brochure for January 2019- March 2019..

We have now allocated training for the first 3 months of 2019

Basic Benefits Training …

I can now confirm that I have opened the window to take bookings for the following training …

Basic Benefits training - delivered by Durham Welfare Rights Service

Date and times Thursday the 24Th January & Thursday the 31st January 9:30am – 4:30pm – **please note this is a 2 day course and you must attend both days. Venue – Armstrong House , Durham

You will receive joining instructions once you have been successfully allocated a place – places are on a first come first served basis- so book early to avoid disappointment

Here is the link to the training brochure which gives an overview of the course aims and objectives..

Save the date : Universal Credit Working Group Meeting …

Monday the 21st January 2019 2-4pm at Armstrong House, Pity Me, Durham DH1 5GH

We will be issuing minutes from today’s meeting in the next few days – it’s great to see so many people around the table contributing which is a testament to the value of the group

I know it’s a long way off but if you could let me know you are attending in advance so we are aware of expected numbers on the day

**Please note that Parking Eye is now installed at the premises and as the meeting is scheduled for 2 hours you may wish to park in the Arnison Centre which is located around the corner as there will be limited parking on the day

Any questions at all please give me a call..

Ms Sam Scotchbrook
Network Development Officer - Advice in County Durham

Direct line: 0191 3726704 / Mobile: 07967344447

Jobcentre Support ..

The Jobcentre in the Consett and Stanley areas are keen to work with partners…

They are wanting to hear from organisations who are running some groups that they could work alongside. This would be to give a chat on how to claim Universal Credit and what will happen when you attend the jobcentre or if you feel you cannot attend, what else is in place to help. The reason we would like to come out is to allow people to speak to us in an environment where they already feel comfortable.

They will stress that this would not be to give any specific advice on what benefits customers should claim or give opinions on Universal Credit but rather to give customers who may feel nervous or unsure about coming into the jobcentre a safe environment to ask questions and speak to a work coach, who does the job daily, face to face.

The aim is more to alleviate worries about making a claim and answer questions. The Work Coach will be supported by our Disability Employment Advisor (DEA) who would also be on hand to answer any questions on what support can be offered by the job centre for customers who are not yet work ready and how we could help them to move forward. I think it is important that we work together to offer the right help and break down barriers.

They are ‘recognising that people’s needs are best served when people work together’ and want individuals to be more comfortable putting a face to the jobcentre in a more informal environment hopefully their minds at rest.

The idea is to primarily look at working with vulnerable groups so would welcome organisations who are dealing with clients suffering from domestic violence, substance abuse or mental health groups obviously depending on how appropriate this is.

The reason behind this was to ensure that some of our community are not putting themselves in hardship due to a fear of the system, the unknown, lack of knowledge or what they have heard from others.

If you would like to be involved or discuss this further please contact Jade..

Jade Caiger
Universal Credit Work Coach
Consett Jobcentre Plus
01207 212145


Thursday 6th December 2018 9:30am -12:15 Employability The Workplace , Heighington Lane Newton Aycliffe, DL5 6AH Coffee and registration from 9.00 am

Advice in County Durham is a partnership of local advice providers, committed to working together to improve the provision of advice across County Durham. We are focusing this meeting on what support services are out there in relation to Employability within County Durham

Confirmed speakers- we have the following confirmed speakers

**Michelle Robson Smart works Newcastle …

**Claire Turnbull from Durham Constabulary – Claire will be delivering on Cyber Crime Vulnerability Assessment- although this isn’t employability related will be useful for all partners who will be attending

**ROAD – reaching out Across Durham

Many thanks Sam Ms Sam Scotchbrook Network Development Officer - Advice in County Durham Direct line: 0191 3726704 / Mobile: 07967344447

Referring to Durham Welfare Rights through the Referral Portal 

Durham WR have recently updated their referral criteria for all referrals sent to the service through the portal. As per the description below I have attached a copy of the Welfare Rights Form of Authority and a copy of the HMCTS medical authority form (this form is helpful as it enables the Welfare Rights Officer to secure a copy of the GP records more quickly when needed). The full criteria is copied below and is now available to view on the referral portal…

Welfare Rights Criteria
Durham County Council Welfare Rights specialise in the representation of clients at benefit appeal tribunals. This particular referral route is for the referral of clients requiring representation at tribunal only. Any general benefit queries or checks should be directed through our professionals advice line: 03000 268 978 open 12.30 – 15.30pm or the client can reach us directly through the public advice line: 03000 268 968 open 9 – 12pm.
Welfare Rights will only take on a case for representation once the SSCS1 has been submitted. When making a referral to Welfare Rights for representation we ask referrers to include - a copy of the Mandatory Reconsideration notice - a completed copy of the SSCS1 form, – a completed form of authority for Welfare Rights and – a completed HMCTS medical authority form.
Any referrals not including this documentation risk being rejected. If your organisation does not provide support up to the SSCS1 stage you can refer the case to Citizens Advice County Durham who can assist with this and will then send the case on to Welfare Rights once ready.

If you require a copy of the Welfare Rights Forms of Authority or the HMCTS medical authority form please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Update from DWP… 

Universal Credit Live Service will end in January and the Jobcentres in County Durham are busy preparing our customer for the change to Universal Credit Full Service, this will be a supported change and customers will be invited into the Jobcentre to make their claim to Full Service. If you have any customers contacting you about a letter they have received on this subject please encourage them to attend their appointment etc. If they have any questions they should contact their local Jobcentre.

The changeover is due to start on 5th September 2018

Information Websites

The following websites have been developed to help people living or working in County Durham access the information they need. Please follow the appropriate link below to access the site you need.

Durham Locate (formerly DIG)

Need help finding the right care and support? Locate is a free online resource providing a wealth of care and support information and services making it easier for you to make plans now and in the future.

Families Information Service (FIS)

The Families Information Service is a free and impartial service providing information to help parents support their children through to their 20th birthday, or 25th birthday if the child is disabled. The website provides information on a wide range of things including – choosing childcare, where to find a nursery, pre-school or playgroup, sport and leisure clubs as well as family leisure activities, information about free and flexible early learning (formerly nursery education) for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds, support for children with additional needs or disabilities, parenting groups and classes.

Wellbeing For Life

Wellbeing for Life is a service commissioned by Durham County Council and delivered by five partners who have years of knowledge and experience of working and supporting local people across County Durham

This is Durham

The official Tourism Website for Durham