Supporting Families

Income – Wellbeing – Attainment – Potential

Advice for Families

CHAI supports families in the community by offering advice and information on welfare rights, housing and debt to parents of children in Early Years Centres and Edinburgh Schools across the city. Health Visitors in North-West, South-West and South-East Edinburgh can also refer families to us. Read more below about the services we offer.

Our Maximise! Project

Maximise! is our award-winning family advice and support service, which we deliver in partnership with Children 1st.

The service provides advice, employability and family support to families struggling on a low income or facing difficulties. Currently, this service is offered to families whose children attend Early Years Centres in: Craigmillar, Granton, Greendykes, Fort, Moffat, Calderglen, Hailesland, Gilmerton, Sighthill and Stenhouse.

Support and assistance is offered with the following:

  • Income maximisation and benefits advice
  • Dealing with debts
  • Housing problems
  • Family wellbeing support
  • Employability advice and support

Maximise! also works in partnership with HomeEnergy Scotland which means we can easily refer families who are experiencing difficulties with energy bills or those needing help with any energy-related queries. 

To enquire about these services, please email or call us on 0131 446 2300 or 0131 442 2100.

Advice In Schools

Our Advice in Schools service offers support to families with school age children living in Edinburgh. The service will offer support around:

  • Income maximisation
  • Benefit applications and representation
  • Dealing with debts
  • Housing problems
  • Support to access employability agencies in Edinburgh

See our Where We Work page for a full list of schools where we provide the service.

To access this service, contact your school directly or call CHAI on 0131 442 2100 or email

Growing Families

CHAI’s Growing Families project is a partnership with Health Visitor teams in North-West, South-West and South-East Edinburgh. This service provides financial advice for families receiving support from Health Visitors before your child starts school. Our Growing Families Team offer benefits, debt and housing advice; as well as budgeting and financial capability support.

If you have a young family, and need advice, please speak to your Health Visitor for a referral to our Growing Families Project.

Whole Family Equality Project

This project which aims to address poverty and inequality within ethnically diverse families. This is a partnership between CHAI, Children 1st, CCP and other third sector partners including Linknet, Volunteering Matters & Passion4Fusion.

The advice worker will work towards outcomes such as improving each family’s financial resilience, while helping to identify and address the barriers faced by ethnically diverse families living in poverty.


Maximise! was awarded the Voluntary Sector Partnership Award at the 2021 Scottish Public Service Awards for excellent partnership working between CHAI, Children 1st, The City of Edinburgh Council, Capital City Partnership and NHS Lothian. The Voluntary Sector Partnership Award recognises public and third sector organisations working in partnership to deliver better outcomes in public services.

Maximise! was also nominated for the Colin Mair Award for Policy in Practice which recognises community-based initiatives that apply good policymaking to make a real practical difference to people’s lives.

Case Studies

Read case studies of our work which illustrate how we can maximise people’s income and resolve benefit problems and other housing and debt issues.

Angela (pseudonym) was referred by one of the Maximise! Primary Schools. Angela and her partner have an 8-year-old son. Although the couple both work, they had been living off savings which were now dwindling. 

What we did: The couple was seen by a Maximise! Advice Worker who completed a benefit check and discovered the family were not receiving any benefits.  The Advice Worker assisted them to claim Child Benefit and Universal Credit.  The financial impact of this assistance amounted to a Universal Credit entitlement of £9,510.96 per year and a Child Benefit entitlement of £1,076.40 per year (2020-21 rates).  After maximising their income, the Advice Worker then referred the family to our Maximise Employability Adviser.

Angela is originally from a country in Asia and has a University MBA and a first class degree in Business. As is often the case, Angela’s qualifications are not automatically recognised in the UK and people have to pay a fee to have their qualifications assessed. This regularly results in them not being recognised as equivalent and they are told to re-train for a further year at their own expense. Angela decided to apply for a job that could fit in with her childcare needs whilst continuing to develop her potential in this country.   The Maximise Employability Adviser assisted her to apply for a part time post at a bakers in the city centre which she was successful in obtaining.  Angela enjoyed her job and liked working with her team but it did not allow her to make the most of her qualifications.

When working at the bakers our Employability Adviser continued to support Angela to explore opportunities to gain qualifications which would be recognised in the UK.  Angela began with a Foundation Level course for International Software testing followed by the Intermediate and Advanced courses which she funded herself. Angela’s hard work paid off and she was successful in gaining a position as a Software Test Engineer in the north of Scotland.  Her starting salary will be £26,000 and the family will be relocating shortly.  Angela is delighted. Her persistence and willingness to invest in her future, combined with the support she was offered by Maximise! has paid off. 

Simon (pseudonym) was referred to Maximise by his son’s primary school.  He was a single parent and was extremely anxious at the time and worried about money.  He had been forced to give up work after a change in circumstances when his son came to live with him permanently and he was struggling to manage and pay bills. 

He also had some rent arrears which were preventing him from moving house and some Council Tax arrears which were adding to his financial concerns.  In addition to this, Simon’s little boy was experiencing some problems which were being followed up by the appropriate agencies.

What we did: The advice worker referred Simon to the other parts of the Maximise! service which included Employability and  Family Wellbeing Support.  For advice on Simon’s energy issues he was also referred to our embedded Energy Carer from Home Energy Scotland. The Family Wellbeing Worker worked closely with Simon and his little boy to support the family to manage health issues and day to day pressures.

The Advice Worker completed a benefit check for Simon and began looking at additional funds. He made grant applications for birthday and Christmas presents for the little boy and referrals to agencies who could help provide clothing.  Simon needed to apply for jobs online but did not have a laptop or much money to pay for Wifi so the Adviser sourced a grant to get a device and some help towards Wifi costs. 

Simon was keen to move house but was unable to bid for alternative properties because of rent arrears.  The Adviser assisted Simon to set up a repayment plan, which meant that after 3 months, he could start bidding on Edindex.  He is now able to bid for alternative housing and is also receiving support from the Adviser to explore other options for moving house.  Simon was also supported to set up a repayment plan towards his Council Tax arrears and was helped to prevent a bank arrestment from taking effect. 

Working with the Maximise! Employability Adviser, Simon was supported to build his confidence, develop his skills and prepare for finding work.  This included help to get a new phone, interview clothes, putting together a new CV and providing testimonials for job applications.  Simon was also supported to join an interview panel for a community group from which he received great feedback and was asked to join the panel again in the future.   Working together Simon and his worker then starting looking at suitable posts and he was offered an interview by the Council.  Simon is continuing to receive support from the Maximise! project as the service is not time limited and meaningful change for most families takes time and ongoing, flexible support.  Simon has fed back to us that this has been really helpful to him.  He told us that he ‘feels valued by Maximise!’ and that he can now finally see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

Case Studies

Read case studies of our work which illustrate how we can maximise people’s income and resolve benefit problems and other housing and debt issues.

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