Stirling Advice Partnership Gains Charity Status

A new money, benefits and housing advice service bringing together experts from Stirling Council, Shelter Scotland and Macmillan Cancer Support was granted charity status this week. The Stirling Advice Partnership, which is grant funded by Stirling Council (with grant aid support from NHS Forth Valley, Falkirk Council and the Scottish Legal Aid Board) is a new way of helping Stirling residents cope with housing and debt problems, make the most of their money and keep their homes.

Based at Customer First in Stirling’s city centre, Stirling Advice Partnership’s experts provide free, confidential information, advice, advocacy and representation on:

  • benefits
  • income maximisation
  • money/ debt
  • housing options
  • tenancy problems

For the first time, private tenants can now access dedicated advice from Shelter Scotland. Stirling Council is the only local authority in Scotland funding this type of independent service for private tenants.

Specialist benefits and money advice from Macmillan-trained professionals is also available for those suffering from cancer and other life-limiting conditions, across all of Forth Valley.

Stirling Council Leader Johanna Boyd said: “The Stirling Advice Partnership will bring together existing services provided by the Council, MacMillan Cancer Care, Shelter and The Scottish Legal Aid Board to provide a single source for advice on housing, benefits, debt and welfare reform.  As an independent charity it will be able to work with funders and other advice providers to ensure that high quality advice is available across the Stirling area to anyone that needs it.  Putting this in place has been a key priority for the Council and I’m delighted that it is now a reality.”

Alison Watson, Head of Services at Shelter Scotland, said: “The private rented sector has doubled in size over the last ten years, with more and more families calling it home, and it is crucial that when problems do occur people can get appropriate, independent help and support from experts.

“From advice on rent arrears and illegal evictions to maintenance and repairs issues, our advisors as part of the Stirling Advice Partnership will provide a vital service to the city’s tenants to help them enjoy a safe and secure tenancy. We congratulate the Council on its progressive approach in funding this service.”

NHS Forth Valley Director of Public Health Dr Graham Foster said: “We are delighted to be a partner in this new initiative. Ill health can lead to people experiencing major financial difficulties, especially if they are unable to work for some time. It is good to know that additional assistance is now available which could help ease the financial and emotional burden which patients can sometimes face.”

Macmillan Senior Welfare Rights Project Manager Tommy Gorman said: “The impact of cancer on the finances of cancer patients and their families can be devastating. Being forced to give up work while facing extra costs like travel to hospital can be really tough.

“It’s through partnerships like this we can make sure people with cancer can access the benefits and other welfare advice they need to make sure they are focusing on their health and not worrying about how they’ll pay their heating bill. We look forward to working with our partners on this new project to help the people of Forth Valley.”