Benefits advice

Anniversary Appeal

October 2022: Anniversary Appeal

As we mark 25 years of continuous service, we are grateful to those who have sustained us financially and through volunteering during this time. We are inviting new and existing supporters to give of their time and money to celebrate this milestone.

July 2022: Emergency Appeal and Resilience Appeal have helped fund our work while charity was 100% dependent on donations

We are grateful to everyone who gave when no other sources of funding were in place. Thanks to every donation received in 2022 we have stayed open and have not reduced our service. With partial funding now secured from several sources, the appeals have been a success.

We work hard at fundraising but as we saw earlier this year, the outcomes are not guaranteed. One-off and regular donations – from individuals, groups, and organisations – continue to be most welcome as we do not want to be in such a precarious situation again.

Coming soon: 25th Anniversary Appeal

April 2022: Amazing wave of community support saves key service, donations still needed

People from across Bristol and beyond have responded generously to keep the advice centre going through the current gap in funding. Thank you.

With partial funding now pledged until 2025, the charity is seeking to rebuild resilience after the scare of this cashflow crisis. This requires a diversified fundraising strategy, of which donations from individuals is an important pillar.

March 2022: Emergency appeal

What people are saying about Filwood Hope, March 2022

I found Filwood to be a good place to live and raise my family – with much to celebrate.

And while many share my experience, many individuals face multiple complex issues and barriers to coping with everyday life. Those people, including my friends and my children’s friends, have been able to turn to Filwood Hope advice centre knowing that our professional advisors will be the bridge between their need and the help that is available.

The level of trust and respect that our team has earned cannot be replicated: local residents value our 25 years of continuity and distrust the common short-term funded projects that disappear after 3 years.

We have ambitious plans as we continue to contribute towards a thriving, resilient and connected community. But as we know from air travel safety briefings, one has to put one’s oxygen mask on first. For us to help our clients towards resilience, we need to be financially resilient ourselves. We’ve established some strong foundations to build upon – a new training course equipping clients with financial literacy, a new database and a new fundraising plan – please don’t let us be prevented from supporting people right now.

We have some funding and more fundraising lined up but need a buffer to act on our rescue plan. Please help us raise the missing £10,000.

We’re a lean organisation and very effective: for every £1 we receive we typically help clients receive over £10 in previously unclaimed benefits, and welfare benefits are not the only area of our work. We offer a wide range of services. We may need to be even leaner in future, but your support is needed to help prevent us closing altogether.

At this time of national crisis, no one else will have capacity to offer our clients the support we can (which we do in such a cost-effective manner) – we’re typically very busy with 4000+ visits every year.

This year people on low incomes face growing hardship. People are turning to Filwood Hope. We can’t imagine closing our doors on them. And yet without imminent donations and grants we will have to close the advice centre. Help us love our neighbour.

If our appeal is successful, I very much look forward to seeing you at our 25th anniversary celebrations this autumn. Which will be much more joyful than the alternative.

With thanks,

Ed Palairet
Chair of Trustees

PS- If only 5,000 people gave £1/month, effectively sponsoring our 4,000 clients, we would be self-sufficient. (But this is our first appeal during a cost-of-living squeeze, so we’re not likely to reach 5,000 new donors. Please give generously, if you can. And please help this appeal reach more people who might not yet know the value of Filwood Hope)

We respond to a wide range of queries including inadequate housing, complex benefit issues, errors from statutory bodies, inability to repair essential items, financial abuse – often compounded by debilitating issues such as language illiteracy, digital exclusion, chronic pain/illness, mental illness and learning difficulties.
Many of our clients are vulnerable and find everyday life difficult. Any ‘small’ thing that goes wrong may cause crisis.
Some of our advisors have noticed the issues clients face here are more complex than previous roles in other parts of Bristol.

Our free advice sessions include advice information, signposting, referrals (e.g. debt services, foodbanks, mental health agencies, occupational therapists, etc.) and emotional support. Often this results in relief from prolonged anxiety.

We submit grant applications, we help with budgeting skills, energy bills.

The Filwood Hope approach

Some of our distinctives are:

  • We treat everyone with dignity and respect, we don’t turn anyone away
  • We are easy to access. We don’t require appointments (so as not to exclude clients with more chaotic lifestyles)
  • We give as much time as is needed – allowing clients to express their need, in their own time, in their own way.
  • We start where people are (both geographically and metaphorically) – offering tailored support on their terms and at their pace – we bridge many gaps

Where else can they turn to?

April 2022 local news headlines

We put the needs of Bristol ahead of our survival instincts

Our response to the coronavirus pandemic

Many of our clients suffered from isolation during the Covid-19 lockdowns in Bristol, so we decided not to use the furlough scheme – we offered a phone and internet service until we could offer our staff life insurance and re-open safely (with the challenges of a non-ventilated building).

Because of this, we supported people from across Bristol when many other sources of support were closed and inaccessible. We responded to more than 240 telephone and 120 email enquiries from all over the city (over 40% of these were from people who had not accessed our services before).

But we learnt that working from the building is of crucial importance to our existing clients as many were unable or unwilling to reach us in our working-from-home mode (digital exclusion, confidence issues, access to phone credit, etc.).

The pandemic coincided with the unexpected end of a significant local government funding period for us, and we seemed to never quite ‘fit the box’ of new funding. Furthermore, some local churches that usually give to us were not able to meet so did not have any funds themselves to give from.

As a result of serving during the pandemic in this way, we are experiencing a period of critically low reserves. Please give generously, today hope needs everyone.