SOUTH West Lancashire independent Community Advice Network (ICAN for short), are celebrating 20 months of unbroken support of the West Lancashire community throughout the pandemic.
They are based at the Ecumenical Centre in Skelmersdale and have aimed to ensure that no one who needed access to their specialist support services missed out.
Throughout this period, ICAN developed new ways of working, making sure that West Lancs residents benefited from their work.
Their primary aim is to help and support residents as well as maximising people’s income, be that through welfare benefit applications, including PIP/ESA form filling advice and assistance or digital /IT support including on-line training.
They also provide employment law support as well as job search and CV writing among a range of other services.
A spokesperson for ICAN said: “All our staff and volunteers pulled together and more and more people contacted us not just from the borough, but from as far away as Scotland, Truro and Canada!”
ICAN assisted more than 2,000 people with form-filling, appeals, IT assistance, employment law, and in addition with their partners on the lottery-funded AIMS Project, West Lancs ARK, provided help for the homeless, veterans, and others.
Money claimed on behalf of their clients during this period was just more than £2 million, helping to improve their health and well-being and lifted many out of poverty.
As the majority of their clients are from West Lancashire the money claimed back also helps support local shops and the local economy.
ICAN Chair, Paul McConnell said: “Like everyone else we have had to face a lot of challenges, least of all losing our great friend and board member Alan Lewis MBE in April last year.
“Losing Alan helped all our staff and volunteers decide the best thing we could do for our community was to continue providing all our services to anyone who needed it.
“Sadly, we believe there are many more difficult challenges ahead, so at this time it really is important that we all look to support local charities, businesses and organisations over the coming months as we will need them more than ever.
“We will have to face issues on so many fronts with the £20 Universal Credit top-up ending, furlough ending, energy price increases and other challenges that may come along, it is important that West Lancashire residents have access to free, independent, quality advice.
“In the next few weeks ICAN’s new Learning Centre with free to use IT Suite will be opening with the support of our partners the Ecumenical Centre, more details will be released nearer the time.”
For support, visit: www.swlican.org, or call on 01695 726269.