Members spotlight: Z2K

Date Posted: 10 July 2018

Members spotlight

This week we are highlighting the work of our members, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (also known as Z2K), and spoke to their Chief Executive, Raji Hunjan.  

Tell us a little about you…

Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (also known as Z2K) is an advice and campaigning charity working across London to address problems within the social security and welfare benefits system.  Our roots are in campaigning, and our work is driven by the experiences of our clients and how they have been impacted by welfare reform and housing shortages.

How are you helping to tackle child poverty in London?

We provide detailed casework support for people across London on issues such as risk of homelessness and complications with their benefits. Every year we help hundreds of people to deal with their benefits and housing issues. We address gaps in service provision to make sure we are giving support to people who struggle to get advice elsewhere.

Our work also involves campaigning for change to improvement government policies relating to poverty and welfare at local and national levels. Our campaigns build on our evidence-based policy research and target injustice at all levels of the social security system. While we maintain a London focus in both our casework and campaigns, our policy team also work for improvements at a national scale.

What concerns you currently about child poverty in London?

We know that children are more adversly affected by poverty and impacts on their chances to develop in a safe and secure environment.  Our biggest concern is the increasing cost of housing which is increasing the number of children living in poverty

Share with our members something positive about your organisation’s achievement or service

In light of the above, we are pleased to be contributing to Shelter’s commission on Social Housing.   I am one of the Commissioners, and look forward to hearing evidence from all those who have an interest in social housing and its impact on children.

We have also recently produced a new report on disability benefits and the tribunal system - 'Access Denied'. The report is based on our work with clients who have been denied disability benefits and are appealing this at tribunal.  Like many other advice agencies, we saw an increase in our tribunals service a couple of years ago, following reforms in disability benefits, and in particular the outsourcing of the assessment stage for individual clients claiming ESA and PIP.  We know from our feedback from clients that the disability benefits appeals process causes significant stress. We also know that many of our clients would struggle to cope if they did not have support.

“It's very hard when you have to go to tribunals, gathering all the information you need, you don't know what they want. Z2K could hear my plight.” (client feedback)

All of this feeds back into our policy work, and in our report, we make some important recommendations that we hope resonate amongst others in the 4 in 10 network. 

What can other network members learn from you or find out more about through you?

I have to say, I am always looking for opportunities to learn from others, I often forget to think about what others can learn from us.  

More and more we are thinking about how we work with our clients more holistically and in an empowering way, so that they are better equipped to take control of their lives and move on.  With that in mind, I am particularly pleased about our partnership with South West London Law Centres, Ace of Clubs and Katherine Low Settlement, which combines detailed advice work with additional support work to help clients to address specific problems in more detail.  This could include debt, language issues, or general lack of confidence. 

Empowerment of clients is really important to us at Z2K.  Responses from our end of case survey tell us the approach we have is making a positive difference to their lives. In the first 3 months of introducing the survey, we received 36 responses, and of these:

  • 32 said they felt more in control of their money
  • 20 said that next time they would feel more able to deal with their problem
  • 21 said they were more confident to take part in community activities

We find this very heartening, because it demonstrates that with patience and paying attention to a client’s emotional state as well as their financial, we can make a bigger difference. 

Why did you join 4in10? What do you enjoy about being part of the 4in10 network?

We are really pleased to be a part of the 4in10 network because we are always looking for opportunities to widen our networks and do more together.  The longer term social change that we want to see for children cannot be achieved without a strong sector, and we very much want to be a part of that.