direct help and advice

Direct Help & Advice has never been more needed with rising homelessness; Key Fund stepped in when nobody else would.


Based in Derby, Direct Help & Advice (DHA) is a charity that provides free legal advice around housing and debt to help prevent homelessness.

their story

In 2013, after 18 years of charitable work DHA hit the ropes. Legal Aid reforms saw their historic reliance on Legal Aid to fund their work turn on its head. Worse, they were fighting a legal battle with their High Street bank.

After being miss-sold an interest rate hedging product, the charity was being charged £3k a month. It killed their cash flow. Their overdraft got to a level where their bank refused to increase it.

DHA approached the Key Fund for a £45k loan at this critical period. Key Fund gave them the financial lifeline to rescue the charity, reflect on their business model, adapt and survive.

With Key Fund’s support, it has diversified from being a charity reliant on funds, to a sustainable business.
DHA has become a ‘One Stop Shop’. As well as its core service of free legal advice, it looks at the bigger picture around housing and debt, such as mental health and unemployment.  As well as keeping at-risk families in their homes, it works to improve their futures.

Today, the charity has a £1m turnover, employing 35 people including qualified solicitors and case workers.


DHA takes calls through a nation-wide helpline for struggling with debt and at risk of losing their homes. Around 4,000 families are helped every year and in Derbyshire 1,000 families are assisted face to face.

Direct Help estimates if the service had folded in 2013 those 1,000 families would have been struggling for legal support to enable them to remain in their homes.

The Key Fund supported us; we were a big risk. They had the confidence in us, and it’s in fairness to them 100% that we’re here now.”

Steve Clayton, Head of Finance, DHA.