Part 1- Using online information
Once you’ve identified the key issues a young person is facing you can assess which questions might be answered by an online search and which need support from a case worker or advisor.
Online resources can be especially useful for
- Answering questions with a definite answer
- Finding guidance
- Finding relevant organisations you could signpost your client to
- Finding contact details for organisations
- Getting copies of forms the client may need to fill in
Before researching the key issue
- Find out what the Key Issue(s) are
- Find out what they wants to achieve
- Find out their barriers, what is making achieving this difficult?
- Condense the issue into advice questions (use our notes template here)
- Pick out some key facts
If you are in doubt or if you cannot find any information on our recognised websites about what you have seen on non-trusted web pages then write down some notes about the option that you or the client may feel is applicable to their situation and bring those notes to an advice appointment.
Trained advice workers are impartial, non-judgemental and trained to provide every potential option relevant to the situation.
Part 2- Finding the right webpages
Using Google (or other search engines)
We have a list of recognised websites here, but be mindful of links that may offer misleading or inaccurate information.
Advertisements and for-profit services/companies that offer paid services often disguise their marketing as free information sources. Always cross reference any potential leads using our list of recognised websites.
The only advice you should ever have to pay for is from a solicitor. See our guide to searching for legal aid here.
Forums and Facebook groups
You may come across posts from members of the public who have experience or knowledge of similar issues on online support groups and community forums. These can be useful as a jump-off point for search terms but the information is biased, sometimes based on misunderstandings and may be non-reflective of the client's specific situation. Always cross reference any potential leads using our list of trusted websites.
There is a wealth of information online but it’s important that you and the young person get correct, up to date information from a reliable source.
Citizens Advice website should always be your first point of call
It is regularly updated in line with current laws and policies and is the largest advice database in the UK.
It has separate websites for Scottish and Welsh law so you can be sure that the advice is relevant to where the young person lives- click on the page for England.
Where to search
Google and other internet search engines are great resources but if you’re looking for advice, it’s often worth searching within a website for a particular service.
For example, using the search function on the Citizens Advice website can help bring up information about the topic you are searching. This is useful because sites such as Citizens Advice are kept up to date making it much more likely that you’ll find relevant and accurate information straight away.
Good practice in searching
Getting a good idea of key search terms can help you to find accurate information quickly. These terms are often closely related to the Key Issues.
When wanting to know more about illegal evictions, the key issue would be Housing.
You already know that a website with a Housing section or a dedicated Housing advice website would be useful.
You can also try searching on the internet for ‘Housing illegal eviction’
Use the bookmarks or favourites tool in your browser to store information or sites that you might use frequently. You might want to have different folders for these such as ‘housing’, ‘debt’ etc.
At the end of the session, you can email the links for sites you’ve visited to the young person (or show them how to bookmark them if using their own computer or phone) or print copies of pages and highlight relevant information.
Part 3 - Using the information
Once you’ve found the information, you will need to ensure that the young person understands it. Then you can use it to make action plans.
Making sense of the information:
- Read through the page together (out loud or in silence) and check whether they understand it. Ask them how the information might be relevant to their situation. If they don’t understand, support them where you can.
- Encourage the young person to take notes of the key things they learn from the site. You can use the Ask Us template here
Normalise that the information may be confusing at first, by reflecting out loud your own comprehension process.
- 'What does this mean?'
- 'I don’t know that term, should we look it up?'
- ‘Do you think that’s a question to ask an adviser?'
Part 4 - Moving forward with the information
Having looked online you can start to make an action plan based on what you’ve found out.
Sometimes you might not find the information you’re looking for or it may be confusing or unclear. You might need to refer your client to another organisation for specialist help.
Signposting or referral?
Working with colleagues can be an invaluable way to quickly get an answer or clarity if you’re not sure.
Making an action plan
An action plan can be anything with a set goal and who, how and when the steps will be achieved for that goal to be completed.
You can use our Action plan template here
Check your action plan:
Once you’ve made an action plan, it’s a good idea to look over it with the young person to make sure it’s clear and appropriate for them.
- Does the young person understand the consequences and likelihood of negative repercussions or outcomes if they don’t follow the action plan?
- Do they understand who is responsible for which actions? Do they understand why they are responsible for certain actions?
- Is your plan feasible? For example, if you’ve made a budget, is it manageable? If you’ve made a referral, will the young person be able to get to the appointment?