From April 2019 to March 2021 Great North Children’s Hospital piloted a direct access to social welfare service in partnership with independent charity Citizens Advice Gateshead, whose vision is a fair society for all, with lives well lived.
The GNCH Foundation investment paid for expert Social Welfare Advisers to support families at a time and place that suited them. The pilot project successfully demonstrated the potential for reducing health inequalities for children and their families, who otherwise were unlikely to obtain much-needed assistance with complex social welfare matters, had the support not been brought directly to them.
Families gained grants to help with their child’s transition home; they were supported with completing complex and emotive benefits applications; appealing against unsuccessful claims; and with talking to their employers to stabilise an already turbulent situation.
The pilot’s impact was so significant that this has led to the Great North Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust extending the service for a further 2 years. Critically, the partners have also agreed that the learning from the pilot should be widely shared as a model that has the potential to make a significant difference to the welfare of children facing long-term health conditions and their families.