Mind in Croydon’s Welfare Benefit Advice Service has been awarded the prestigious Advice Quality Standard (AQS). This is the only sector-owned, independently audited standard that focuses on advice. Organisations with the AQS are audited every two years and have to demonstrate that they are accessible, effectively managed, and employ staff with the skills and knowledge to meet clients’ needs. We were particularly pleased that the auditor reported that Mind in Croydon is a, ‘conscientious organisation with an obvious passion and commitment to their service users, the essential work they carry out and quality of delivery…the Welfare Benefits Advice Service should be congratulated on achieving such a high standard of compliance against the standard particularly as a first audit outcome.’ Furthermore the report stated, ‘…it is apparent that they want to make a real difference and there is no doubt, that the advice service’s success to date is due to a great team effort and enthusiasm.’ We were pleased to see that Mind’s Welfare Benefits team was praised as, ‘experts in their subject area.’
The AQS process is a robust one. The organisation is required to prepare a workbook or Quality Manual to include all relevant documents, both organisation-wide and service specific, and to answer a series of questions about every aspect of our advice work. This is followed by a day long audit of files and records backed up by interviews with the staff team. Mind in Croydon’s and the Chief Executive’s level of engagement with both voluntary and statutory sector agencies was highlighted in the report as an indication that we are an appropriate organisation to be a holder of the AQS quality Mark. Mary Frost-Gaskin, who manages the service is the member of staff responsible for AQS accreditation and has congratulated all her team, particularly Adrian Clarke and Michel Thizy on this excellent achievement.