The Agnes Smith Advice Centre provides free and confidential advice in the heart of the Blackbird Leys community. Each year, the service supports more than 1,200 local people with a range of advice on housing, welfare benefits, debt, and accessing food banks and other local services.

The centre is an independent charity and the service the team provides is available to anyone living in Blackbird Leys or Greater Leys.
When social distancing measures were introduced, the centre had to quickly switch to providing their services online and over the phone to continue to help local residents.

Housing association Catalyst works closely with the centre as a source of help and advice for their residents living in Blackbird Leys.
Catalyst’s Director of Community Investment, Sahil Khan, said:

‘We’re delighted to be able to help the centre at this particularly challenging time for many residents. Our contribution will help the centre to continue to provide their usual services, and to adapt to a new way of working including new equipment and technology. The centre’s work is crucial to the wellbeing of the neighbourhood, now more than ever.’

Advice Centre Manager, Mandy Richards, told us:

‘We want to make sure we continue to reach all local residents who need us at this difficult time. As well as covering some of the immediate costs of adapting our service, Catalyst’s grant includes a significant contribution to our core running costs, recognising the importance of our essential frontline service during the Covid-19 crisis. We are very grateful to Catalyst – many thanks, from all of us at the Advice Centre.

‘If you’d like to contact us, please call and leave a message at any time on our new freephone number 0800 066 2218, or email We check messages four times a day and we will get back to you within 24 hours.’


More information on Catalyst

Catalyst is a one of the leading housing associations in London and the South East with 34,000 homes and 1,200 employees, having recently merged in December last year with Bedfordshire-based Aldwyck Housing Group.
We are experts in placemaking and developing tenure-blind neighbourhoods, with a strategy in place that will see us build up to 1,300 quality new homes each year. Our approach to creative design, effective urban planning and high-quality development is underpinned by our long-term interest in our neighbourhoods. By adopting a stewardship role, we ensure that the places we help to create are well maintained, look great and remain desirable and affordable places to live. A prime example of Catalyst’s work is our flagship regeneration project in North Kensington, Portobello Square.For more information, please contact:

Liz Brown – Senior Communications Officer
01582 869224

Charlotte Stamper – Head of External Affairs
020 3693 2464 | 07815525365