In January 2014, F.A.C.E Benefits Advice wanted to support the local community with overcoming bedroom tax challenges. Initially, a few hours of pro-bono work (1 day a week). By April, Managing Director Karen Price,had received several clients desperate for additional help, triggered by cross- dependency on the living arrangements and tax implications at hand. The Pro-bono work then evolved into four days a week commitment.
F.A.C.E Benefits Advice is now a registered Community Interest Company and, despite all the financial struggles, the COVID pandemic, and the Brexit aftermath, Karen and the team have fought many battles and won over 90% of their cases and appeals for many happy clients.
The business service model proved successful, valuable, and impactful. It also proved the possibilities if additional resources were made available.
The success of F.A.C.E Benefits Advice is still driven by the people behind the work. The team is at the core of the process. They function through an extremely limited infrastructure and the primary logistics set-up is a one-to-one interaction with each client.
Respect, empathy, and problem-solving are bundled into service with an unquestionable mutual commitment between F.A.C.E and the client. First, to listen to the client’s concern, and to identify all viable options of services and programs available. Second, to make sure each client understands their personal commitment to the process and effort necessary to fight, appeal, and challenge their case.
As part of the initial intake diagnostic, the LCR4 START team at Liverpool John Moore’s University (LJMU) identified a few ideas to explore how the current operations can be streamlined, how to identify data collection of repetitive processes, to explore improvement, and how to optimise the message for their service increase to reach and support the communities affected, whilst getting the attention needed to secure funding and expand resources.
The Industry Academic Liaison drafted a PHD proposal in collaboration with Dr Adam Shore, Director of Business School at LJMU, Dr Elizabeth Heyworth Thomas Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy, Dr Athanasios Zolotas from the School of Computer Science and Mathematics, and D. Helen Beckett Wilson from LJMU Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion.
The interest and aim for the research emerged from the current challenges experienced by F.A.C.E Benefits and other local Community Interest Corporations CIC regarding business and data analysis, and the funding application process for micro-SMEs.
Through the LCR4 START project, LJMU teams have recommended collaboration interlocks with the LJMU School of Business Clinics and will continue coordinating the effort for 2023. We have also shared the use case of F.A.C.E. Benefits Advice with the LJMU team as part of the research “Challenging the Stigma of Poverty to Promote Discussion” which will see people with direct experience of poverty from ATD Fourth World a human rights-based anti-poverty charity, working alongside academics, support staff, and students from the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Sciences.
The initial impact is evidenced by the interest expressed by the multidisciplinary academic team. Also, a result-driven model from the field highlighting, quantitative and qualitative data to expand the further investigation, and explore scalability and options for the model to become part of a community improvement initiative beyond Liverpool City Region.
- 769 forms were completed and sent off
- 63 direct paper-based wins (at form filling stage done by volunteers)
- 178 tribunals were attended by KP and won
- £394,449.64 was won between 19 clients through Mandatory Reconsiderations
This was throughout COVID-19 with limited resources, restrictions in place, no office space
Click here for the downloadable case study.
Thanks to the support and input from Yanira at LJMU and the LCR business model we have been able to develop new ways to help improve our own business. We have been able to utilise our social media and website and use it to our advantage building our outreach in the community. We have been able to demonstrate the impact we have in the community using the training Yanira has given us on how to monitor our data better, and this has been massively useful with our funding strategy and how we are able to pitch for funding.- Karen Price, Managing Director
Brochure: Creative Arts Digital Sandpit
- Date: March 2023
- Tech: Augmented reality, Big data, Internet of things, Product Development, Sensor technology, Simulation, Supply Chains, Systems integration, Virtual reality
- Sector: Creative Arts