Bosnia and Herzegovina Community Advice Centre (BHCAC) is the only charity in London providing bi-lingual, free, independent, confidential, impartial information, advice and advocacy to disadvantaged and marginalised Londoners from the 6 western Balkan countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia). Arriving in the UK as refugees in the 1990s following the breakup of former Yugoslavia, they are now British citizens continuing to be affected by past trauma and feeling excluded from society.
The Charity also supports wider Brent community through the provision of Outreach Welfare Benefits Advice and Support services at Brent Hubs (Harlesden) and acts as a local referral agency for Sufra NW London-Food Bank and Ealing Food Bank.
The organisation works with individuals from all community groups, identifying needs, providing holistic, person-centred and preventative support, advice and advocacy services to avoid a future crisis, increase access to other services, promotes independence, integration and community cohesion, builds resilience and improve the overall quality of life.
The Charity is a user-led and membership organisation and has around 60 members and over 1000 service users per year. BHCAC does not exclude anyone from membership based on race, religion or any other protected characteristic. The Trustees set the annual membership fee for all members.
The organisation employs a full-time Project Manager, part-time Advocacy Worker, sessional Welfare Benefits Advisor, freelance Senior Advocacy Worker and Group Talking Therapist. The Trustees made up of between 7 to 9 elected volunteers manage the organisation.
Around 20 volunteers (occasional and regular) are involved in supporting the organisation’s activities. Staff and volunteers take responsibility for day-to-day activities.
Quality Framework and Assurances
BHCAC holds the following accreditations and memberships:
- Advice Quality Standard (AQS) from 2015.
- Investors in People since 2005.
- Practical Quality Assurance System for Small Organisations (PQASSO) at level 2 from 2004.
- BHCAC is registered data protection controller and uses AdvicePro for its advice case management, ensuring secure transmission and storage of client data off-site.
- Independently Examined Financial Accounts.
- Independently Evaluated Reports for larger Projects.
- The organisation has Employer's and Public and Professional Indemnity Insurances in place as well as Health and Safety certificates.
- Trustees, staff and volunteers hold DBS disclosures certificates.
- Member of Brent Community Advice Network (BCAN) from 2016.
- Member of the Black & Minority Ethnic Advice Network (BAN) since 2007.
- Member of Advice UK from 2006.
- Member of Bosnia & Herzegovina UK Network since 1997.