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International Links

Gareth Morgan
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CEO, Ferret, Cardiff

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Coo.  post number 1 on the new system, and I’m in Singapore.

... but seriously

I’ve just been at an international conference in Hong Kong on social work and social development but with a major theme on Poverty and Social Security.  There was a very striking similarity about many of the issues in anti-poverty work but there was also an area where, whatever we might think, the UK has more exeprience nd resources in helping people to access their entitlements.

Apart from the IFSW does anyone know of any international forums where the kind of stuff we do could be promoted?

John Birks
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Welfare Rights and Debt Advice - Stockport Council

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nothing to add except cool gig…

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Welfare Rights Author, Trainer & Consultant

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I’ve long thought that there is a need for better international links.  This would enable us to share learning and prevent us reinventing wheels (or more like flat tyres)

I did locate some WR services in other countries for my book “Practising Welfare Rights” and there are active WR advice groups in Ireland, USA, Canada and Australia.  There appear to be some government funded bodies in Spain and France (but my French and Spanish are at intermediate conversational level only).  I also came across a service linked to Mental health services in Czech Republic and Citizens Advice has developed such services in parts of Eastern Europe.

There also seem to be active WR movements in Holland and the Scandinavian countries and I can’t imagine that places like Italy and Germany don’t have them as well.

The nature of services varies a lot.  E.g. in the USA there seem to be a mix of private lawyers charging contingency fees and community based activists.  Ireland has (or rather, had), well funded public WR advice bodies.

Someone with language skills and access to interpreters needs to spend some serious time on this.  There might be charitable bodies which would fund this because somehow I can see Dave, Nick the Rollover and the Boy George thinking this is something the big state should fund…

Alan Markey
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Director - Coventry Independent Advice Service

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I would really like to see some cross-European links being established in particular.  There is the European Anti-Poverty Network and Citizens Advice also has an international presence.  But I think there is value for alll of us in learning from each other, sharing good practise and building networks. 

This is the European Year of Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion, but I have seen little evidence of that in the UK so far!  With IDS proclamations, more the opposite if anything.