Training courses –

You’ve read the book, now see it live 🙂

Our training courses started with a two day Benefits and Mental Health course – and some variations – linked to  Big Book of Benefits and  Mental Health.

In fact, you could say it was the other way round – as the Big Book developed from the training pack for Judy’s  first Benefits and Mental Health two-day course.

Over the years, people have asked for courses focusing on other client groups  or on specific benefits. We can, then, offer a developing and changing range of courses. The courses will come with a copy of the most appropriate of a growing range of Big Books to be your course pack and  a practical,  trusty guide, companion and tool kit  as you go out there and make a real difference. 

We offer the current range of training courses .

We can though adapt and draw on any of  these courses to tailor to your requirements or develop a completely new course. Courses can be delivered with a mental health bias, a more generic approach or be adapted  to other client groups and your specific needs.

And in these pandemic times, we have embraced new technology, so we can deliver  “in house”  courses online now. In time there will be a choice of having your course online or meeting up together., whether I hop on a train or load up the Big Book of Benefits Bus. 

With growing demand and big benefits changes, Big Book of Benefits and Mental Health author Judy Stenger teamed up with fellow trainer and  benefits bod, Tom Messere,  so that between us, we could say “Yes” to more requests courses and deliver a wider range, backed up with more variations of the Big Book  and so was born 🙂

Sadly, Judy became ill soon after and and passed away in November 2012. Tom continues to deliver Big Book of Benefits courses in association with other trainers also in tune with that Big Book approach pioneered by Judy; it may be training but it can also be informal, friendly, humorous and even fun 🙂

Tom also works as a freelance trainer, on behalf of other providers such as Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), Community Housing Cymru and Ferret Information Systems.

What are Big Book of Benefits  courses like?

First time course participants – especially those who are not advisers – often approach a benefits training day with some dread. Their experience of benefits to date may  lead them to expect that any prolonged conversation or training around benefits has to be hard, complex, full of legalise and sums and dry as dust. They know that attending a course might be useful to them and the people they support and very improving :-), but can be fearful that it might be so in the same way as cod liver oil or double maths on a Tuesday afternoon!

Feedback though suggests, that often to their surprise, people felt they had some lightbulb moments (sseing how some sense can be made of the benefits maze or overcoming a bit of a bloc) and even – strangest of all – that they had enjoyed the course. 

We aim to:

  • empower and enable: (even if there may be a touch of despair to get there 🙂 – so you leave the session equipped to make a difference. 
  • keep it relevant and practical to participants daily roles
  • make materials and slides  lively and involving
  • vary our methods:  presentations and case studies may be complemented by  drawing pictures, line dancing, videos, fun quizzes* and group  discussions
  • be flexible:  a strong underlying structure, but a willingness to adjust to the needs of the group and the day.
  • learn from each other: building on the ideas, experience and wisdom of the group; there is no such thing as a daft question in benefits and new takes or begiiners questions means often everyone on the course (including your trainer) can learn something new!
  • keep it fun: it’s serious stuff, but a relaxed approach and humour (hopefully appropriate and respectful) can help.

* it can be scary as to just how competitive a room full of nice caring professionals can get when the papers fly and the quiz is on!

Who are the courses  for?

Anyone 🙂

Increasingly, people with no previous roles are finding the people they work with coming forward with benefits issues in mind; even a little more basic awareness can help in understanding the question or worry, feeling more confident in daring to even raise the question and to support someone to follow up signposting to the advice and support they need.

And that’s why we are delighted to be involved in delivering the 2021  Dangos awareness sessions funded by the Welsh Government. see more at 

Others,  are helping the people they work with, to tackle puzzling health-related forms or get through difficult and more demanding claims processes , as part of a general support role and wonder about the best way to support claims.

Others are wanting to develop the skills to challenge DWP decisions to appeal if needs be.

Past course participants have included:  service users, carers groups, volunteers,  support workers, CPNs, social workers,  councillors, housing officers and  welfare rights advisers.

What courses do we offer?

We have  split the current range of training courses into:

  • those aimed at the complete beginner
  • those aimed at people with some benefits familiarity, wanting to spend time with a particular benefit or get an update
  • those with a more specialist benefits role or  experience

We can adapt each course to the level of the group and would check that with you. For example:

  • A welfare reform course may be too much for complete beginners, so we would suggest An Introduction to Changing benefits instead.
  • Or a course on the sickness route to benefits (ESA and UC)  can be either be a general introduction for those new to these  or a more targeted session for support workers to empower them to take cases to appeal.

We can then –  adapt and “mix n’ match” courses – to provide something that we hope suits your training needs, in both content and the level of previous knowledge assumed of course participants.

                Please contact:  to discuss your requirements


How to book a course

Why is all our training “in house”?

All are courses are “in house”  i.e we come to you (in person or online  – e.g. via Zoom or Teams) . What we don’t do is offer  a pre-set programme of courses for you to book a place on. This is because: 

  • we are a small sole trader set-up without the resources to run and administer course programmes
  • we also train as freelancers for other larger training providers and we are not seeking to act as direct competitors with them. 
  • “In house” training allows us to deliver something more tailored to your needs at much lower costs per head for you.

We have though delivered training in our particular Big Book way within the training programmes of other providers too e.g. CPAG, Ferret Information Systems and community Housing Cymru. 

How does arranging an “in house” course work?

So the cunning plan for face to face in house courses when these can resume is: 

  • If you can gather up to 16 people wanting a course,  we can come to you – be that in person (when that can be done safely again) or online;
  • If you don’t have 16 in your organisation, then you might want to team up with othere people in your area or feel free to sell spare places to others
  • we have in the past trained in all four nations of the UK and are very alive to the differences in benefits system in each jurisdiction (and are setting out our Big Book of Benefits welcome mat for the positive changes planned for Scottish disability benefits or Northern Ireland mitigations. 
  • You talk to us about which course you want and how we can adapt to your needs and the whens and how’s we might deliver it.
  • You decide the venue, refreshments and whatever luch arrangements and we work out how to get there. Or we talk through how we can deliver online or via Zooms.

How much does an “in person” course cost ? 

Our competitive charge for face to face courses has been the same since 2010 . It has been made up of: 

  • is £550 a day or £900 for a two-day  course, but with discounts for repeat bookings or organisations with limited funding. This fee includes: the actual course delivery time for the day/days, the preparation work beforehand to tailor a course to your requirements and the time to get to you and back again; plus 
  • modest tutor expenses within NJC rates and where we can cut travel costs by linking with other bookings on the way; plus
  • £10 per participant. to cover materials and a free copy of the latest edition of Big Book of Benefits and Mental Health, as course handout and as a companion, resource and practical toolkit when participants go out and turn training theory into income maximising practice.

However, costs to us and to you will be lower for online presentations – see below.

The contents and tools within the Big Book may have a mental health bias but people find the tips and examples very relevant to a whole range of tricky areas to express on health assessment questionaire. While much of the content such as how UC works – or sometimes doesn’t – is fairly generic. 

With a maximum of 16 people this can mean that face to face training works out at as little as  £35 per person per day over a two-day course or £45 per person on a one-day course .

Further discounts apply if you are a regular customer or if you book more than 1 course

What about if we booked an online course?

Can online be training be as good as sharing the space together?  For many, it feels hard to credit that it could still come close . And there is definitely something of a team bonding easier feel to all getting together. And that is why many have been putting off in house training until we can all get together again.

It isn’t the same,  but there are ways of making online training feel interactive. It is not just a matter of a throw back to pre-covid, back -ups of webinars and e-learning . Timings need to change, boxes need to be thought outside of and the most made of some potential strengths in full training online.

There are reduced costs, so the charge would reduce to:

  • £450 standard charge for the equivalent of what would have been a one-day course and £800 for the equivalent of a two-day face to face course. In practise, a one day course would be delivered over two half-days in an online format and a two-day course over four halves.
  • This is  before the same discounts for multiple or repeat bookings;  plus
  • the same £10 materials per participant; but
  • with no trainer expenses. 


Whether you are interested in a course from our current range or looking for something completely different – as long as it’s benefit related, please feel free to e-mail us on to arrange a time to discuss your training needs and the best way we might be able to meet them. No hard selling or obligation 🙂

Read the Book? Now see it live 🙂

We have courses and we can travel by train, tram or t’internet.

2 responses to “Training courses –

  1. why are you charging 550 per day and then stating that if 16 people chip in the price is 30 per head. my maths makes it 16 people @ 30 per head = 480. where does the 550 come from? have i missed something…

  2. Your maths is right, but the from £30 per day refers to the cost per person per day on one of our 2 day courses, which cot less than 2×1 day to reflect a single round of travel and preparation time. Yes it would be a bit more for a one day course. We have held these already competitive prices prices steady since 2010

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s