Diversity and inclusion

Our Trustee Board have agreed unanimously to sign up to eight leadership principles as part of our commitment to improve diversity and inclusion within our charity.

These principles, set out by ACEVO, are part of the Racial Diversity in the Charity Sector report, which was produced in collaboration with the Institute of Fundraising. 

As a Trustee Board, we will:

  1. Acknowledge that there is a problem with racial diversity in the charity sector and commit to working to change that.
  2. Recognise the important role leaders have in creating change by modelling positive behaviour and taking action.
  3. Learn about racial bias and how it impacts leadership decisions.
  4. Commit to setting permanent and minimum targets for diversity that reflects the participants, donors, beneficiaries and the population of the area that my charity operates in.
  5. Commit to action and invest resources, where necessary, in order to improve racial diversity in my charity.
  6. View staff as the sum of many parts rather than a single entity and recruit to build a diverse group of talented people collectively working towards a shared vision.
  7. Recruit for potential, not perfection.
  8. Value lived experience, the ability to draw from one’s lived experience and to bring insights to an organisation that can develop its work.

Our Trustees are now working alongside representatives from our staff and volunteer team to identify actions that can be taken in furtherance of these principles. We will publish details on our website as the work progresses.

Advice service update

We are still here and working hard to make sure that our communities get all the help and support they need.

We are now providing advice and support in a number of ways.

  • Check our self-help page for links to online information resources and details of other services in Coventry.
  • Ask us for advice at any time by using our online enquiry form. Enquiries are picked up regularly during the day, so this can be a very convenient way of contacting us.
  • Telephone us for advice on 07923 126 426 or 07923 126 430. Lines are open 10 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 4 pm each weekday (except Wednesday afternoons when we are closed). There is a voicemail facility out of hours and an adviser will call you back.
  • Chat with us on our website. This feature is currently being piloted and will allow people who visit our website to chat directly to a member of our team. When the ‘live chat’ feature is not available, it will be possible to use the feature to request a call-back.
  • General (non-advice) enquiries can still be made via our main office number (024 7652 1100) or by email to info@covadvice.org.uk.

Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to ensure we continue to deliver an effective, high quality, service to all Coventry residents.

Please look after yourselves. We wish you and your families the very best of health, and a happy Easter.

Suspension of face-to-face advice services

In light of the current situation around Coronavirus, and taking into account government guidance alongside advice from our membership bodies and Trustees, we have reached the difficult decision to suspend our face-to-face advice services with immediate effect.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly but we must take steps to protect our staff as well as our clients, many of whom are particularly vulnerable.  Guidance on social distancing, and the need to protect higher risk individuals in particular, means that our face to face advice model is not currently an option.  Face to face advice, with all parties physically present, can no longer be carried out without significant risk to our customers and our advisers.  We also wish to avoid any situation where people at higher risk of infection need to wait together in reception areas and other public spaces.

Please be assured that we are taking steps to ensure continuity of service for existing clients and we are confident that we will continue to deliver an effective, high quality, service to all Coventry residents.  Although we are suspending all of our face-to-face advice services immediately, we will be refocusing our resources on providing advice and support through other channels including telephone and online.

Over the next few days, we will issue new contact numbers for advice enquiries from the public and will share these with you as soon as we can.  In the meantime, people can call our main office number (024 76521100) and our advisers will be able to offer advice and support over the telephone (either immediately or via call-back).  Enquiries can also be sent to our public email address, info@covadvice.org.uk

We will be keeping the situation under continual review. Please look after yourselves and we wish you and your families the very best of health.

Annual report

We have published our annual report online. In the report, you can find lots of information about our activities during the year, about the work we do and about our impact in Coventry.

Further information, including our financial accounts, can also be accessed via the annual report section of our website.

Benefit appeals and people charging for advice

We have issued the following press release today, alongside colleagues from Coventry Citizens Advice and Central England Law Centre, in response to recent enquiries from local residents who are being charged for benefits advice by other individuals and organisations in the city.

Welfare reform has meant changes for many people claiming benefits. The welfare benefit system is complicated. It’s easy for both claimants and officials to make mistakes that lead to serious problems and a loss of money.

Advice Services in Coventry can provide FREE advice to help with these problems.

Kate Algate, Chief Executive of Coventry Citizens Advice said “If your benefits have stopped or they’ve been reduced and you think the decision is unfair then get in touch. We can help you work out if you can appeal that decision and we can help you submit the appeal”

Appeals are a two-stage process. The first stage is to submit a request for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. If that’s unsuccessful then there is an opportunity to appeal to a tribunal.

Alan Markey, Director of Coventry Independent Advice Service, said “We run services in your local community. We can also help you submit appeals. We’re aware that there are people charging for this help. The services of all Advice Services Coventry partners are FREE.”

Both organisations have quality-marked services and their help is free. If you need to make a second appeal to a tribunal, they will refer you to Central England Law Centre, who provide free representation at the tribunal.

Sue Bent, Chief Executive of Central England Law Centre, said “We know that people worry about going to a tribunal. We’ll work with you to present your evidence and we’ll be there with you at the tribunal. This year, we have been successful in 90% of appeals for Personal Independence Payment, 96% of appeals for Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit and 100% of appeals for Disability Living Allowance.”

In 12 months over £3.2 million in backdated welfare benefits and weekly benefits has been paid to people in Coventry that we helped through the appeals system.”