Citizens Advice South Warwickshire thanks its wonderful volunteers for their dedication

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)
Email: joanne.adams@casouthwarwickshire.org.uk

Natalie Lavin, Trainer (Warwick Citizens Advice office)
Email: natalie.lavin@casouthwarwickshire.org.uk

 For more information about the types of roles we offer visit our website www.casouthwarwickshire.org.uk/work-with-us

 

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Generous volunteers rally to deliver much needed support to Citizens Advice South Warwickshire

Local charity, Citizens Advice South Warwickshire has seen a surge in the number of issues each person has needed help with by almost 30% compared to the same period last year.  These people are being supported on the phone, by email or webchat while the normal face-to-face service is temporarily suspended due to the Covid-19 [Coronavirus] outbreak.

The demand for the whole Citizens Advice network has also been huge with a record-breaking 2.2 million page views of the Citizens Advice Website in recent days. 

Yvonne Hunter, Chair of Trustees for Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said “We have been moved by the generosity of our volunteers, who have mobilised so quickly to help our community’s most vulnerable during this difficult time. Delivering advice on the phone, email or by webchat takes skill and we have found our volunteers and staff stepping up to this extraordinary and unprecedented change with energy and amazing dedication. I cannot thank them enough.” 

She thanked the volunteers, who outnumber staff by almost five to one and have continued to help throughout this difficult time, “Like everyone else we were presented with this challenge almost overnight: to remodel a predominately face-to -face service – which provided over 10,000 face-to-face appointments last year – to being entirely virtual and home-based. As a result, we have seen staff and volunteers rise to the challenge by learning new technologies at lightning speed, and offering their home phones and computers, all in a bid to meet the rising advice needs of our community in crisis.”

Jeremy Vanes, Chief Executive for Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said that employment issues are up by 25% and Universal Credit issues up by over 80% in this early stage of lockdown. “We continue to track the needs of our community to ensure we offer the most comprehensive advice service possible. We have also supported our staff and volunteers to maintain data protection as well as our exceptional advice quality standards through these difficult circumstances.”

How to contact Citizens Advice South Warwickshire for support during the Covid-19 outbreak:

When lines are busy, we still have an answerphone facility. Return calls might be made outside normal hours and from a withheld number. When leaving any 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 (claiming Universal Credit):

To refer to a specialist project, please continue in the usual way. 

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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

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Town Trust grant for “life-saving” Citizens Advice project

Local charity Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said a huge thank you to Stratford Town Trust who have confirmed ongoing support that will allow them to continue their Reach Out and Help (ROAH) project. 

The project is described as “life-saving and life-changing ” by one of its clients.  Beckey Barton, a young mother with fibromyalgia, was initially helped to get a blue badge because of her disability.  Since then, the ROAH team have helped Becky to claim the benefits she needs as well as get a grant to help with costs for an adapted bathroom.

Beckey is now able to run Stratford Fibro Friends support group at Lomas Cafe in Stratford Hospital. “I’ve had amazing support from the ROAH advisors.  It’s very daunting when you are not well and have no idea of what help is available. “

When Beckey started Stratford Fibro Friends the ROAH team offered support to the new members.  “I have seen people taken from the pits of despair and despondency back into being hopeful about their futures, thanks to ROAH help.  I can’t thank them enough.”

The Town Trust funds will help continue to deliver home visits to those in crisis who can’t get to Citizens Advice South Warwickshire’s main offices or outreach sessions. The project targets people who are vulnerable, have disabilities or face serious hardship.

Sara Aspley, Chief Executive of Stratford Town Trust said: “We have seen the value of this service which helps many who literally have no one else to turn to for even basic support.  The most vulnerable and needy people in the town are helped in so many ways.”  

Jeremy Vanes, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said: “When we visit people at home our specialist advisor can reveal and work to solve a lot of problems.  Working across our varied services and with partners and statutory services, we make sure they get the right level of support, help them with hardship grants and be a sympathetic ear.”

This grant will run alongside money from the National Lottery for our already running South Warwickshire wide ROAH  project. These new funds will ensure there is continued service for the whole of Stratford District. 

If you wish to refer to this project, or learn more about it, please contact roah@casouthwarwickshire.org.uk to request a referral form.

To contact Stratford Fibro Friends call 07587 143374.

Citizens Advice South Warwickshire (CASW) is a local charity working to serve people in need across South Warwickshire. We support nearly 8,000 annually making a huge difference to their lives through the dedication of our 26FTE staff and our 130 volunteers. 

In 2019, our brand partners, National Citizens Advice celebrates its 80th anniversary of offering a free, confidential and impartial service for anyone with any issue. 

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. 

 

 

April and May bank holiday closures for CASW

Due to Bank Holidays throughout April and May, our Leamington and Stratford offices and projects will not be accessible on the following days:

Friday 19th April

Monday 22nd April

Monday 6th May

Monday 27th May

We will operate as usual on the next working day in line with current working patterns (our Leamington office is closed each Tuesday).