We are a small organisation with a big impact. In 2016 alone we helped 1,200 people with over 1,900 cases, including issues ranging from disability benefits to housing support. We have also had some significant successes influencing policy at both national and local levels. We are continuing to build on these achievements and develop our campaigns and advice work for the future.

 

Advice and support

In 2016, we recovered £1.7 million increased income for our clients and saved 241 households from homelessness. We also achieved the write-off of £120,000 of debt.

Our annual client survey shows the difference our work has made to individuals. In 2017, over half of those interviewed said they saw a change in their income after working with Z2K, with 82% of clients involved in benefit-related matters experiencing improvements in their financial situation. Similarly 75% said their housing situation had improved. A number of individuals specifically praised the organisation’s role in achieving these outcomes, declaring that Z2K had made the process much easier.

We also identify pockets of deprivation where clients do not seek help. In partnership with Cardinal Hume Centre and Westminster Chapel Food Bank we developed an outreach and drop-in advice service at St Gabriel's Hall, Pimlico. In the first 3 months we saw one person a week, now we regularly advise five a week. 

Tribunal representation

By working in a holistic way and collaborating across the team, we identify gaps and work to address them. For example, in 2016 we noticed a lack of support with appeals to the Social Security Tribunals regarding DWP decisions. We conducted 223 such appeals and had a 79% success rate. We have now developed pro bono partnerships with two law firms to enable us to support more people. 

Client wellbeing

We aim not just to secure benefits for our clients but also to help them deal with other issues which are affecting their quality of life and to support them towards greater independence. We value the impact our services have on people’s wellbeing and are proud of the feedback we have received from those we help.

In our 2017 survey, 75% of respondents reported that working with Z2K had helped to reduce their stress levels; similarly 77% said the charity had had a positive impact on their happiness.

We also know empowering clients and helping them to understand their rights is key to enabling them to self-advocate in the future. In our annual survey 2017, 74% of clients felt they understood more about their rights after working with Z2K, and 64% said they felt they had more power to enforce these rights. 57% said they were more able to argue their case: a significant percentage given how difficult it is for our clients to navigate the extremely complex benefits system:

"I'm now able to search online and seek out additional explanations for things I didn't understand. But I'd still rather meet someone [at Z2K] when things are complicated." (Client)

"I'm aware now that I have more rights than I was led to believe." (Client)

 

Policy change

Council Tax Support

In 2017 we successfully campaigned for Tower Hamlets Council not to cut council tax support for their most vulnerable residents. We led a grassroots movement with local people and used our evidence-based policy research to persuade policymakers of the damage that further cuts would inflict. As a result, Tower Hamlets Council committed to maintaining 100% support for all claimants.