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Local charities Citizens Advice South Warwickshire and Stratford-upon-Avon Foodbank have joined forces to help people access the help they need.
This project was developed between the two partner charities in response to the current pandemic, each bringing unique and specialist support to the people they help. Following a positive start before Christmas the project saw 65 people in its first 6 weeks.
Julie Newton is the dedicated caseworker for this project on behalf of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire and has been working alongside Stratford-upon-Avon Foodbank since October 2020.
“I was excited to be involved from the start of this project and offer help and advice, whether it’s a benefit issue, employment or any other crisis. It has been inspiring to contact people and make a difference to their lives because otherwise they would not have known where to turn to for help So far, the difficulties people have faced include high energy bills, hospital travel costs and homelessness.”
Anyone needing support from Stratford-upon-Avon Foodbank is able to access support from Julie at Citizens Advice South Warwickshire and all foodbank staff and volunteers are able to make a referral directly to the project for Julie’s support.
Among a handful of funders backing the project are Asda and the Misses Barrie Charitable Trust. The project is currently running for 12 months until October 2021, during which time it aims to help around 200 people build a more financially sustainable future for themselves and their families.
Marion Homer, Manager at Stratford-upon-Avon Foodbank said: “It is sad that so many people need our help at the Foodbank so our aim is to work out their needs. Together with Citizens Advice South Warwickshire providing longer term advice and solutions, we believe we are edging closer to solving the problems that cause people to be without food.”
Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of Citizens Advice
South Warwickshire (a Company Limited by Guarantee) will be held virtually in line with Government Guidelines on Tuesday 10th of November at 10.30am.
To secure your place, please book on eventbrite here. To accompany the Annual General Meeting please find our Impact Report 2019-20, with stats, interviews and case studies about the service we have provided over the past year.
1. To receive and consider the Report of the Directors and Trustees and
Financial Statements for the year ended 31 March 2020, together with the Independent Examiners’ Report.
2. To appoint Burgis and Bullock and to authorise the Trustees to fix their remuneration.
3. Election and re-election of Trustees.
There is no special business
By order of the Board.
Members of the public are cordially invited.
Charity Number 1106631
A Company Registered by Guarantee Number 5168480
Citizens Advice South Warwickshire [CASW], a local charity has continued giving advice to those in need throughout the Coronavirus pandemic thanks to the tireless dedication of its staff and volunteers. Everyone quickly rallied to ensure as many people as possible could be helped over the phone, email or a webchat as face-to-face appointments have not been possible.
Volunteers’ Week runs from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 June, and the charity wants to thank all their volunteers for contributing not only during this exceptional time of Covid-19 [Coronavirus], but throughout the year too. Over 130 volunteers at Citizens Advice South Warwickshire contribute more than 800 hours of their time each week. In the last year they have helped over 6,000 people with more than 32,000 problems; including debt, housing, benefits and employment issues.
Claire Lomas (pictured) a volunteer adviser, with Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said: “I joined CASW over a year ago and am working towards becoming a full generalist adviser. My motivation to volunteer is to give back to the community where I was born and have raised my family. I stay in touch with the other volunteers, with whom I have strong bonds, through a WhatsApp group and we share support and funny videos to help keep us going.
Queries and client profile have changed dramatically; people who never thought they would need employment advice or state benefits are reaching out. Since lockdown friends and family have taken an active interest in my role with CASW in a way that they haven’t before. I feel that I am actually contributing to help those in crisis. While things feel out of control, I am making a difference.
When I am not looking after my family or volunteering, I work for our family company and also teach cello. Music is a great way to relax after a difficult day!”
Yvonne Hunter, Chair and a volunteer herself, at Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said: “Our unique service in south Warwickshire involves almost 5-times the number of volunteers to paid staff. Throughout the year our wonderful volunteers contribute their time, energy and expertise to make a huge difference to people’s lives and help keep our vital service running. Whether they have been able to continue in their role recently, or have paused their volunteering, their support throughout the year has been truly invaluable.
“I cannot thank them enough for their continued dedication. We really couldn’t do it without them!”
If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering with Citizens Advice South Warwickshire, contact:
Joanne Adams, Trainer (Stratford Citizens Advice office)
Natalie Lavin, Trainer (Warwick Citizens Advice office)
For more information about the types of roles we offer visit our website www.casouthwarwickshire.org.uk/work-with-us
CASW is working to provide the best, most sustainable service during the Coronavirus outbreak. We have a duty of care to keep clients, volunteers and staff safe in line with Government Guidelines. To do this, we need to make changes to our service.
OUR OFFICES ARE NOW CLOSED
We are providing no face to face appointments and no drop in sessions through any of our offices, outreaches or home visiting projects unless in an absolute emergency and only if we have capacity.
To remain available and effective, we have increased our capacity in four areas to support our community in the safest way possible:
- Instant Self Help: As always many issues can be solved through our comprehensive and informative online resource on our brand partner website www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
- Phone: You can reach us by phone between 10:00 – 15:00. Monday to Friday on 0300 330 1183
- Email: Our email form can be found here www.casouthwarwickshire.org.uk/contact/email-us/
- Webchat: www.casouthwarwickshire.org.uk/contact/chat-with-us/
When lines are busy, we still have an answer phone facility. Call backs might be made outside core hours and from a withheld number. When leaving an answerphone message, please remember to provide:
- Your name
- Your number; and,
- A brief, clear outline of your issue
An adviser will then call you back as soon as they can.
If your query is about our Help to Claim service for claiming Universal Credit:
- Help to Claim phone line: 09:00 – 17:00 Monday to Friday 0800 144 8 444
- Help to Claim: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/help-to-claim
As with everyone during these difficult times, we may need to change our service as Government guidance changes but we will stay in touch via email, social media and our website.
Please look after yourselves and please get in touch if you need us. As we have been for the last 80 years – we are here to help.
More than 6,000 people were helped and 32,000 issues were dealt with during the 2018/2019.
Yvonne Hunter, Chair of Trustees for Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said
“Most of the people who come to us have multiple problems and we have specialist advisers who can help. Nearly half of our clients have a disability and it’s evident to us that many mental health problems in the community are not being addressed.”
She thanked local authorities who provided about 50% of the local charity’s funding.
“I know this funding makes sense to them. We managed to get £3million additional income for our clients – probably more, as we don’t always hear about the outcome of our help. This is money that on the whole goes straight back into the local community. So we are a good investment. “
Mayor of Stratford Kate Rolfe, a former trustee of the local Citizens Advice said
“When I first joined Citizens Advice in Stratford I thought it was a government-supported body, so I’m aware of the need for funding. I am very pleased that you are one of my chosen charities for my year as Mayor”.
Jeremy Vanes, Chief Executive, said that benefits and debt topped the list of most common problems, but South Warwickshire faced particular difficulties.
“Most Citizens Advice services around the country have one or two outreach locations, but in South Warwickshire we regularly take our services to 13 different locations. We also have 12 other staff who can provide home visits for people who meet the remits of our special projects. Transport and communications in this area sometimes makes it difficult for people to come to us”.
He said that Citizens Advice were helping a higher number of EU nationals who made up 10% of clients – an increase on last year.
The Impact Report with full details of the work of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire can be found on their website.
Citizens Advice South Warwickshire will be restarting advice sessions in Alcester- offering their expert and confidential help to those in need.
An outreach advisor will be available to meet people on the first and third Thursdays of the month at Globe House. Appointments will need to be booked through the Citizens Advice office in Stratford upon Avon.
Citizens Advice South Warwickshire, a local charity, has been able to continue the sessions for a year from March 2019 thanks to funds from a host of community groups in the Alcester area. Alcester Town Council, Stratford District Council and Warwickshire County Council are all behind the relaunch, working together to bring the advice service back to the people of Alcester.
Nina Knapman, Trustee at CASW said:
“Our outreach services are so important because we can’t always assume that people can travel to our offices in Stratford or find all the solutions they need with our website information. Face-to-face contact can help people who are getting overwhelmed by problems of debt, benefits claims or housing issues”.
“We are grateful for the funding from so many groups so that our outreach work can get to those in need “.
Mark Cargill, County Councillor for Alcester said:
“The cessation of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire outreach for the residents of Alcester was a major concern to me. I am delighted that, with local community support and in partnership with the Town, District and County Councils, an arrangement has been made allowing us to restart this vital service. I hope that CASW outreach will now remain in Alcester, continuing their support for our residents”
If you would like an appointment, please call 01789 200136 to arrange a time and date.