How South Somerset District Council grants help organisations to help you

Thousands of people are being supported to live independent, safe and secure lives every year thanks to a grant awarded by South Somerset District Council.

Citizen's Advice South Somerset (CASS) received one of the 90 grants awarded by the Council last year to support its invaluable work in the district.

And the organisation said the £120,000 it received is vital to its continuing success.

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CASS grant

CASS is the major provider of free, confidential, independent and impartial advice in South Somerset. It helps around 6,000 people a year by helping them to access free, impartial and expert advice as well as ensuring that isolated and vulnerable people in the district are able to access services fairly and not be disadvantaged by their circumstances.

In addition to financial support, SSDC has also assisted CASS with premises, having co-located the charity at Petters House in Yeovil.

Kim Watts, Client Services Manager for CASS said: "We provide advice through various channels. This includes face-to-face in our Yeovil office and in our many outreaches including Martock, Somerton, Ilminster, Chard, Wincanton and Crewkerne. There are many ways to access us and many topics that we cover to support people to deal with the issues they face."

CASS provides support through its:

  • General advice service: This is open to anyone in the community and can act as the first port of call for someone
  • Education: Information workshops that are delivered to raise awareness about issues such as scams, employment rights etc. and how people can manage their lives
  • Specialist projects: This is when targeted work is undertaken with people who CASS know are at particular risk.
  • Training & career development: In addition to the training received by CASS paid and volunteer advice workers, training is also provided to a variety of groups including health coaches, village agents and hostel health workers.
  • Confidence Club: This has been set up to support clients to develop wider networks and resources.

Angela Kerr, CEO of Citizen's Advice South Somerset, said: "Many people probably don't think about how they're going to manage when they experience a major life event, like a difficult health diagnosis or a car accident, or something similar. Unfortunately what that can mean for a lot of households is a dramatic drop in income. This can escalate to a whole range of problems. At Citizen's Advice we have a holistic approach to our work so that we can deal with all of the challenges that an individual or family are facing."

Angela Kerr, CASS

The SSDC grant is a substantial part of CASS's core funding which means that it does not have to worry about funding its services and staff, and means that it can develop its outreach across the district by training volunteers to a professional standard. Angela added: "It is because of this that people across South Somerset are receiving the quality of advice that they deserve."

Cllr Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: "These grants are important. They help everyone across the district and allow organisations like CASS to grow and develop their outreach and their services. Its services are so important to the community, from debt help to engaging those that suffer from mental illnesses.

"Without these grants we would see organisations like CASS suffer and in turn the people in South Somerset wouldn't have the necessary help and advice that they need when they need it."

CASS works closely with many different services within SSDC including housing, welfare advice and communities. CASS also works in partnership with the Yeovil One Team (a police-led partnership) and other agencies and networks to deliver skills into the community.

South Somerset District Council issued 90 grants in the past financial year totalling more than £380,000 to organisations supporting children & young people, sport, community projects and heritage initiatives.

To see the full breakdown of grants awarded in the past year, see the Corporate Grant report in the District Executive agenda of 2 August.