Frequently asked questions about joining the network

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Who can join?


• All those Third Sector bodies involved in giving advice or support;

• All those Third Sector bodies who wish to make appropriate referrals;

• Public Sector bodies such as Libraries, Council Centres, PALS;

• Registered Social Landlords.


The project started with nine initial partners in Cumbria (7 Citizens Advice Bureaux, Shelter and the Cumbria Law Centre). Since January 2010 this has been extended to the wider sector of advice and support organisations and community groups. This has enabled us to share knowledge and good practice across the network of providers.


We are looking for all Third Sector organisations who provide advice to join the network. Membership of the network is open and free.


We are also looking for organisations for whom advice is not their primary focus. This may for example include organisations that provide practical support to clients with a specific medical condition or disability. It is important that advice organisations know about this support so clients can be referred or signposted. Equally these support organisations need to be able to refer or signpost clients to advice organisations where appropriate, to supplement the practical support they provide.


Will the network be extended to other organisations?


Membership will be developed with statutory and private sector partners as demand requires.


It is important as a network we work with the public and statutory bodies in Cumbria in the interests of our clients. We have identified that open access points such as libraries are an ideal places for information about the network to be made publicly available, other public bodies will be contacted as the project develops.


Our clients depend on the wide availability of free, quality assured advice. The initial stages of the project do not include private companies. We will consider private sector organisations at a later stage if it is in our clients' interests to do so.


What are the benefits of joining?


• becoming part of a ‘common referral system’;

• facility to refer clients on for further quality assured advice through the common referral system;

• being part of the Cumbria Advice Network website;

• access to supplementary advice from other network organisations;

• a right to request support with Training Needs Analyse and referral processes;

• free or subsidised local training events (some working towards CPD accreditation);

• receive the CAN E-newsletters;

• invitation to CAN Yearly Conference and to be consulted on the delivery of the network;

• opportunities to meet with other like minded people from other third sector advice and support agencies;

• influencing campaigns for change;

• funding opportunities resulting from joint funding bids with network partners.


What responsibilities come with joining?


• sign up to the CAN Equality and Diversity Statement;

• confirm that your organisation has an equal opportunities policy or is working to develop and implement one;

• confirm that your organisation has a complaints procedure or is working to develop and implement one;

• provide content for the CAN website, including details of how other organisations can refer to you and areas of advice or support your provide. And to provide the CAN team with any updates on a regular basis;

• provide details of any Quality Marks held by your organisation;

• provide details of membership of nationally recognised bodies;

• refer and signpost clients where appropriate;

• act on training support provided;

• input evidence for campaigning for change issues;

• communicate experience of the Cumbria Advice Network and the benefits of working together as a network to other organisations;

• participate in Case Worker Forums, Network Events and the Annual Conference to share practice and improve advice giving across Cumbria.


Is there a joining fee?

 No. Membership of the Network is open and free.


Who funds the Cumbria Advice Network?

The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund based on a 5 year business plan submitted by Citizens Advice Cumbria. The initial partners have signed up to a partnership agreement to deliver the project on behalf of the Big Lottery Fund.


How do I find out more information and join?


Please contact your nearest Network Champion or Development Champion for more details.