Within the framework of exchange of experiences and best practices in the field of providing information, advice and active help to citizens, representatives of the partner organizations and pilot projects of the Triple A project stayed in London and Dublin from March 3 to 8, 2014.
In London, 24 participants of the study visit had the opportunity to visit 6 non-governmental organizations providing citizens with various types of information and advice, visiting the Croyon municipality and the Upper House of Parliament. Extraordinary experiences in providing active assistance, advice and information to different target groups were presented during three-hour meetings with service providers. Following the presentations made by the representatives of the host organizations, the representatives of the Triple A project had the opportunity to ask questions and thus arrive at the optimal solutions that are applicable in their countries of origin. The visit to Croydon County was of utmost importance as it outlined the efforts undertaken by the municipal authorities in their efforts to respond to the reduction of social benefits budgets for vulnerable categories of population and how they cooperate with NGOs providing assistance to citizens through counseling and advocacy.
One day of the study visit was devoted to a tour of the UK Parliament, where hosts Lord Bach and Mr. Roger Smith presented the way the government considers, proposes and adopts various measures regarding social benefits and other benefits to disadvantaged categories of citizens. A visit to the Royal Court of Justice is planned as part of a visit to the Office of Legal Advice for Citizens, which has premises within the court. The information that this non-governmental organization operates within the premises of the court and that advice and legal assistance are provided to a large number of citizens in various fields where they are needed was of great importance. One of the models being promoted in the UK is the provision of free legal assistance by hiring volunteers from outside the ranks of lawyers and lawyers employed by other public and private organizations.
The role of volunteers providing information and advice to NGOs is one of the success factors for the work of organizations. Their training is organized so as to make the best use of the personal potential of each volunteer, which as a result has an efficient system in which the ordinary citizen can quickly and easily obtain reliable advice and information. In front Julie Bishop, representative and Executive Director of the Law Centers Network, welcomed us, together with Noeleen Adams, Director of Development and Support, coordinating all activities.
The visit to Dublin was aimed at learning about the model of providing advice, information and assistance to citizens within the National Association of Citizens Information Centers. Representatives of the Association presented two models of service delivery, methods of data collection, storage and processing, education of employees and volunteers, and evaluation of their work. During the visit to the Citizens’ Information and Legal Centers, the representatives of the Triple A project had the opportunity to spend part of their working hours with the staff, thus gaining practical knowledge in this field. It is very interesting that all centers are funded by the state at a rate of not less than 75% of the total budget, and that cooperation in the field of data exchange and in the form of institutional assistance has been established in the field of cooperation between non-governmental organizations and state aid services for citizens. Representative of the National Association of Citizen Information Centers, Director Philip McCabe and Director Deirdre Case, who is also a mentor for organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the Triple A project were our hosts.