Our offices are temporarily closed, but you can still contact 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:

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:

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. 

Christmas closures 2019

CASW is has the following opening hours:
 
Both offices open on Monday 23rd December.
 
Tuesday 24th:
Leamington office closed (this is our normal closed day)
Stratford upon Avon office open as normal
We are then closed between Christmas and New Year, reopening as normal on Thursday 2nd January. Thursday is our normal closed day in Stratford, Leamington will be open as usual. 
 
Wishing you a lovely Christmas break, from all of us at CASW.
 

The number of people helped by us would have more than filled the Royal Albert Hall

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

Ends 

Celebrating 80th years of Citizens Advice

80 years ago in September 1939, this country went to war. This was to have a huge impact on millions of people.  It led to the start of Citizens Advice Bureaux to help in large cities and towns where war would be disrupting life. 
Citizens Advice opened in 200 locations the day after war was declared.  Dedicated advisers helped the public with problems as diverse as lost ration books, homelessness and evacuation. They even helped locate missing relatives and prisoners of war. 
 
Read more about the early beginnings  of Citizens Advice and why we are still needed today. 

 

 

Help for Alcester people in need of advice

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.

Benefits problems stacking up in Warwickshire

More than half the people who came to Citizens Advice for help in South Warwickshire are having problems with claiming  benefits, according to their Annual report 2017-18 .

Universal Credit has been introduced to the Stratford District area, but Warwick district has only just had the welform reform measure introduced and more problems are expected.

Universal credit  and other benefit issues such as tax credits were responsible for 10,000 problems faced by the local charity in 2017 /18.  In total Citizens Advice South Warwickshire handled more than 32,000 issues, with one in four of the clients having debt problems.  There was a rise in the number of people coming to Citizens Advice for food bank vouchers because their income was insufficient to support themselves or  their families.

Jeremy Vanes, CEO of CASW, High Sheriff Clare Sawdon and Yvonne Hunter Chair of CASW

Yvonne Hunter, chair of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire told the annual general meeting: “Many of our clients are struggling with increasingly complex issues and often we are the only source of help when they need someone to speak up for them”. 

“We are incredibly grateful to our funders who, in difficult economic times, have continued to support us.   As a lean and local charity, it is our volunteers and our funders who enable our service to be delivered.  Those funds act as a good investment when you look at how we are able to get people back on their feet and ensure they are getting all the  support they need.”

High Sheriff Clare Sawdon presented long  service awards to volunteers and staff. Warwick District Councillor Neale Murphy, a former fireman, said Citizens Advice had saved more lives than he had during his career. 

 

Court Desk Service

The Court Desk Service provided by CASW is an established and respected service available to all residents in Stratford District and funded by Stratford District Council

It is a comprehensive “wrap-around” service.  This means that we support people before, during and after Court proceedings, including attending clients and providing advocacy in the Court room.

Our overarching aim is to provide consistently excellent advice to our clients who are often feeling overwhelmed by a complex welfare benefit and court system.

We prefer always to work cooperatively with Landlords, Housing associations, the District Council and our Partners to find sustainable solutions.  We aim to help our clients to remain in their homes by affording their rent and avoiding the devastating effect of homelessness.

How do we work?

Before Court

We encourage referrals from anyone who is struggling to pay their rent. The earlier we receive the referral the more we can do!  We explain the Repossession Process to clients to help people to understand that their cooperation is essential to navigating their way safely through the stages.  We assist clients with their budgeting so that their income is maximised (this may mean ensuring that clients are receiving the correct entitlement to welfare benefits) and also reducing their outgoings.  We help clients to access the best water gas and electricity tariffs and look at money-saving ideas. We help clients to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments where appropriate.

We explain the difference between priority and nonpriority debts so that clients can understand that their rent is one of their most important outgoings.  We can also consider different ways to ease the burden of non-priority debts including making token offers, Debt Management Plans, considering DROs, Bankruptcy and also write-offs.

Wherever possible we try to reach agreements with Landlords prior to Court to ease the stress for our client and to encourage the repayment to start as soon as possible.

At Court

Our Court Desk Worker is an experienced advocate.  We attend every Tuesday Possession Hearing and spend the time negotiating wherever possible and supporting our clients with advocacy in the hearing.  Our services are valued by the Judiciary. Our Court Desk worker attends every County Court User meeting which helps the Judge to understand the intricacies and challenges of the benefits system.  This in turn results in realistic Orders leading in turn to tenancies that are more likely to be sustained.

After Court

We provide ongoing financial capability support.  Our clients have ever-evolving lives and this sometimes necessitates Orders to be varied when their circumstances change in order to avoid a breach of the Order.  We prepare the paperwork to make these applications and attend with clients as necessary. Where eviction warrants are issued we can act swiftly to get the matter to Court and to work hand in glove with the District Council to see whether extra support might be available to our clients.  In these situations we are often working closely with our Partners to provide the necessary support for clients e.g St Basils, P3, Together etc.

Making a Referral is very straightforward – simply email Helen.knight@casouthwarwickshire.org.uk or call on 01789 200134.  Once we have received consent to do so, we get in touch with tenants and arrange for them to have an appointment.  This might be at one of our outreached, at their home address or at our offices in Stratford or Leamington

If you would like to receive promotional material to give out to your clients please be in touch and we can supply leaflets and posters for your offices.