Articles in Category: Blog

Major Fostering Event

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Free Entry Event: Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Tuesday 22 May, 7.30pm - 9.30pm (Fostering & Adoption)
Could you transform lives as a foster carer or adoptive parent? Anyone who has been thinking about fostering or adoption can enjoy free entry to the Emirates Spinnaker Tower on Tuesday 22 May, 7.30pm–9.30pm, and have a chat with current foster carers, adoptive parents and social workers.
Foster carers get fantastic satisfaction from making a real difference in the life of a vulnerable child or young person. Plus, they receive top-quality support, training and around £165-£550 a week per child in their care (some of which goes towards food, clothes, toys, savings etc for the child).
Carers come from all walks of life, regardless of ethnicity or sexuality. While a spare bedroom is crucial, it doesn't matter whether you own or rent your home. Some people foster as a career, whilst some combine fostering with other employment.
If you don't feel you can foster full or part-time (e.g. on a respite basis), then our Lodgings Plus scheme could be for you. You could provide a spare room and around 10 hours of support per week to a vulnerable 16 to 24 year-old, helping them with things like learning to cook, applying for jobs, college or university and moving on to live independently. Lodgings Plus providers receive over £750 for each young person in their care (if providing daily meals).
Take a look at some film clips from our foster carers, and a young person in care, at
If you're considering adoption, we are pleased to say that the Portsmouth Adoption Service will also be at the event to share their experiences and answer your questions.
For more info on fostering or adoption in general:
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• 023 9283 4071
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• 023 9287 5294

Free Deaf Advice Service

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Hello! This video explains how you can access our debt advice service via a BSL/English interpreter.

The Debt Advice Form

For guidance on completing the Deaf Debt Advice Form, please click the link above.


Many people struggle with debt and it can be hard to know what to do or where to go. Some examples of debt are with credit card payments, council tax arrears, loans or bank overdrafts, mortgage, and so on. These can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

To advise you on your debt issues we offer a service called Money Advice Service Debt Advice Project, or MASDAP. This is a government funded debt advice service that is free and confidential. You will not be judged and neither is any personal information shared with the Money Advice Service. Citizens Advice is fully impartial and confidential.

If you are deaf and want help with debt, the project will cover the cost of a BSL Interpreter so that you can access the services of a debt adviser. The Interpreter is free, you do not have to pay anything. Interpreters booked through this project are provided by Action on Hearing Loss.

This video explains the steps you can take to use the service.


The only criteria is that you have a debt or are behind with your bills. For example, you might be at threat from losing your home that has come about as a result of being unable to meet payments. Another example is owing money on a credit card or a store card and being unable to repay. Interest is accruing and you are receiving letters demanding repayment from your creditor.

What you need to do - step by step process

Inform us that you want to see an adviser about your debt. We have created a Debt Advice Form for you to complete.

The Debt Advice Form will either be displayed on the web page, or you will see the option to download it. There is a separate video in BSL for the questions.

Fill out the form and send it to us. The instructions on how to send to us can be found at the bottom of the form.

An adviser will contact you as soon as possible with an appointment date (please see the form for how long it will take to hear from an adviser). Your appointment date and time will be during working hours. It may be at least two weeks before you can see an adviser as this is dependent on interpreter availability but we will aim to see you as soon as possible.

Once you receive an appointment time and date it is important that you confirm with us that you can attend.

If we do not hear back from you within 5 days, then we will assume that you do not want advice at this time and the appointment will be cancelled.

Portsmouth Together to take part in new national programme

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Portsmouth Partnership chosen to take part in new national programme

The Portsmouth Together Partnership has been chosen as one of the 20 places in England to take part in the first phase of the Placed Based Social Action programme.

The Placed Based Social Action programme is funded using £4.5 million of Government and National Lottery money, and is managed by the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The Place Based Social Action programmes aims to support communities to put social action at the heart of plans which make a positive difference in the local area. It gives people the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the design and delivery of local services by bringing together communities, local authorities, public sector organisations, service providers, civil society organisations and businesses to address local priorities.

Between now and December 2018, Portsmouth Together will work with Locality, the national network for community organisations that bring local people together to meet local needs, to design a local social action plan.

Portsmouth Together started in 2014 when Portsmouth become part of the Cities of Service UK Programme. From initially focussing on a small number of impact volunteering initiatives, Portsmouth Together has developed into a city wide volunteering service and become the volunteering development agency in the city recognised by all sectors and local residents.

The partnership also comprises representatives from all sectors across the city including Portsmouth City Council, Citizens Advice Portsmouth, Portsmouth CCG, The Southern Coop, Portsmouth Disability Forum, Shaping Portsmouth, Pompey in the Community and the University of Portsmouth, representing all sectors of the community and bringing a wide range of assets to the partnership.

Sandy O’Neill, CEO of Citizens Advice Portsmouth and Chair of the Portsmouth Together Partnership said, “We are very excited that our Partnership has been chosen as one of the 20 places in England to take part in the first phase of the Placed Based Social Action programme.  Whilst the partnership has already developed a range of volunteering and social action initiatives, we see this as an opportunity to create and deliver a City wide social action sustainable strategy that is owned not just be the City Council, but by the wider community and citizens across Portsmouth.”

Brian Bracher, Portsmouth Together Coordinator said, “We are clearly very pleased that the work of the Partnership over the past 3 years has been recognised.  However, being selected as a Placed Based Social Action location means that we can really step up our engagement with local groups and residents. Over the next 10 months the Partnership will work with local community groups and residents to create a shared vision and plan setting out how social action can respond to the priorities facing our city.

Cllr Luke Stubbs, Deputy Leader, Portsmouth City Council said: : “I’m delighted that Portsmouth has been selected to participate in the Place Based Social Action Programme.  Social action in the community is at the heart of many of the projects that we’re delivering with partners across the city.  We’re keen to maximise this and further explore the potential as we believe it’s fundamental to how we shape our vision for the future.”

In January 2019, up to 10 of the 20 partnerships taking part in the first stage of the Place Based Social Action programme will go on to be awarded funding of up to £240,000 for three years to put their plans into action. Following this, up to five of these partnerships will be awarded further funding of up to £255,000 to develop and expand their plans for another three years to December 2024.

To find out more about the Portsmouth Together Partnership and how you can get involved in the Place Based Social Action Programme Portsmouth please visit the website

Press Release - Mental Health Staff

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Mental health staff increasingly dealing with 'vicious cycle' of patients’ wider problems during clinical time
8 out of 10 mental health staff said that dealing with a patient’s practical issues left them with less clinical time to treat their mental health issues, Citizens Advice has found. Over half (57%) reported the proportion of time they are spending on non-health issues has increased compared to last year.
Citizens Advice conducted a survey of 244 mental health practitioners who deliver NHS England’s Talking Therapies programme. These services provide treatment of anxiety disorders and depression in England.
Nearly all (98%) respondents said they had dealt with a patient’s non-health problems during an appointment in the past month.
The most common problems mental health staff are assisting with are debt and money problems, unemployment and work, housing and welfare.
Mental health staff reported these problems had a negative impact on their patients’ ability to manage their mental health, complete a course of treatment and ultimately recover.

More than half of those surveyed reported increased stress as a result of dealing with these non-health problems.
Mental health staff reported they have spent appointment time helping patients with these problems through:
  • budgeting or debt management plans
  • contacting public services/agencies of the patient’s behalf
  • providing supporting letters
  • assisting patients complete benefits applications
  • contacting creditors on the patient’s behalf
Citizens Advice helped over 100,000 people who reported having a mental health problem in 2017.
Citizens Advice data shows clients with mental health problems are more likely to face  multiple, complex problems compared to the average client. In 2017, clients with mental health problems had an average of 5.3 issues per client, compared to 3.8 problems per client overall.
In the past 2 years, Citizens Advice has seen an increase in the number of clients with mental health problems, including an 11% increase in those who require advice on benefits.   
CItizens Advice is calling for advice services to be integrated in more mental health settings to alleviate the pressure on frontline mental health staff and to better support the needs of people with mental health problems.
Roughly a third (34%) of respondents had access to an integrated advice service within the mental health setting.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
"If you're living with mental health problems, everyday issues like managing your money, dealing with your landlord, or applying for benefits can be much more difficult to manage. But if these issues aren’t addressed, they can often escalate and make mental health problems worse - creating a vicious cycle that is difficult to break free from.
“Providing people with practical support is essential to make sure these problems don't spiral out of control, but this should not be the job of already stretched mental health professionals. To reduce pressure on frontline NHS staff and better support people with mental health problems, advice services should be available in mental health settings as a matter of course.”
One of the mental health practitioners surveyed by Citizens Advice said:
“There is always a certain amount of [practical problems] in therapy but it has become entirely unmanageable. Very often my entire assessment and subsequent intervention will be related to social or financial issues. That is not our role, can be stressful and is an expensive use of health care practitioners’ time.”
Dr Jed Boardman, Lead for Social Inclusion, Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“In order to stay mentally healthy, we all need enough money in our pockets, a decent roof over our heads, some valued work, and a supportive environment.  People with mental health problems need all of these to aid their recovery, as well as engagement with effective therapies.

“The effects of the present lack of advice services available for people with mental health conditions, as highlighted in the report, are exacerbated as mental health professionals try to do their job in the context of increasingly stretched resources. Integrating advice services in mental health settings is one important means of improving the lives of people with mental health conditions and the mental health workforce.”

Simon Crine, Director of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute said:

“We at Money and Mental Health welcome this important new research from Citizen's Advice. As our own research has shown, too often mental health professionals find themselves sorting out debt and money issues at the expense of doing their day job.  Integrating debt advice into mental health services would be a win-win for mental health professionals and people with mental health problems.”

What customers say

“I was very low when I came to the CAB, with debts and problems everywhere. I am now a lot happier, as I pay one sum of money each month and get left alone by creditors”.