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).

 

 

Citizens Advice South Warwickshire launches new service for people applying for Universal Credit

Local charity, Citizens Advice South Warwickshire, has launched a new service called “Help to Claim” for those who need help to apply for Universal Credit across South Warwickshire.

People will now be able to get support as they submit their Universal Credit application until they get their first full payment.  The service will support anyone who has difficulty claiming online on the GOV UK website. This could be because a mental or physical disability, learning difficulty, lack of understanding of IT or any other exceptional circumstances.

Help will be tailored to the individual and available over the phone 0800 144 8 444 and face to face through the local Jobcentre.  This may include assistance with the online application form or help with providing evidence like childcare costs and bank details.  Budgeting advice will also be offered to help people manage a monthly payment.

Jeremy Vanes, Chief Executive Officer of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said

“This week we’re launching a new service specifically for those who need help applying for Universal Credit.

“We offer free, independent, impartial and confidential advice to people in the community every day and have developed an expertise in dealing with Universal Credit. We’ve seen first-hand what can happen when people struggle to make a claim and their payments are delayed. We are here to help”

A recent survey by the charity found more than a third of people Citizens Advice has helped struggled to provide the evidence needed to complete their Universal Credit claim.

The charity has already helped more than 600 people across South Warwickshire with problems relating to Universal Credit. Nationally, Citizens Advice has helped over 230,000 people with Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a new benefit that combines 6 benefits into 1, including Jobseekers Allowance and Working Tax Credits. It is now fully rolled out across the UK. When fully implemented, around 7 million people in England and Wales will be receiving Universal Credit.

People can access the service by phoning  0800 144 8 444 or visiting the website www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Ends

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.

Special need for new volunteers in Leamington and Stratford

Citizens Advice South Warwickshire (CASW) offers confidential advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free. We give people the knowledge and the confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem.

However, a special need has arisen to help people with the fastest growing advice issue – Universal Credit (UC). As a local charity we need more volunteers so that we can improve the support available to people making a claim. Citizens Advice South Warwickshire is set to deliver a new service called “Universal Support: Help to Claim” which offers end-to-end support to help people make a new Universal Credit claim and be ready for when their first payment arrives.

We are looking to recruit several new volunteers with good IT skills to support others to make and complete their new Universal Credit claim, as well as a commitment to the aims and principles of the Citizens Advice Service.

You’ll have the ability to interview people either in person or on the phone. Maybe you have had some experience of using the benefits system? Perhaps you are looking for a volunteering role before getting back to the workplace? Or maybe you have more time to give something back to your local community?

Full training will be given for these posts and, after this, we would hope you could commit to one full day each week. The posts will be based at Leamington Spa and Stratford upon Avon.

This is a great opportunity to make a real contribution by helping others in our community to resolve their problems – which is good for them and the wider community. CASW is a local charity helping local people. More than 100 people already give their time to helping run the service – we hope we can find more for this urgent need.

Please contact us to find out more or get an application form.

For Stratford upon Avon Site Email maria.veitch@casouthwarwickshire.org.uk or call 01789 200180

For Leamington Spa site Email natalie.lavin@casouthwarwickshire.org.uk or call 01926 457928

Role description

Support people in making an initial online claim for Universal Credit.
Record details of claims on our case recording system.
Refer people for additional support where appropriate.
Prevent future problems by identifying failing policies and poor services.

You will need to be

Computer literate, including able to enter data onto an electronic form.
Able to use a telephone.
Good at listening and being patient.
Able to read and write English.
Flexible and able to work well with other people.
Open-minded and non-judgemental.
Interested in learning something new and passionate about making a difference.
Willing to carry out role off-site on a rota basis.

Desirable (but not essential)

Basic understanding of Universal Credit and the online claim process.
Knowledge of google drive and applications.
Understanding of the welfare benefit system.
Understanding of the wider issues faced by the local community.

Local community hall gives boost to Citizens Advice before Christmas

Kate Rolfe, member of the Rosebird Community Hall committee hands over a cheque for £400 to Yvonne Hunter, chair of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire.  

The donation comes from the income generated by the Rosebird Community Hall which is a not for profit enterprise.  The committee donates funds back to selected good causes in the Stratford community.

Yvonne Hunter said: “As a local charity we are extremely grateful for this money which will in turn will help local people. It’s a welcome boost in difficult economic times.”

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. 

 

CASW Annual General Meeting – Stratford Office closed

On Tuesday 13th November, Citizens Advice will hold its Annual General Meeting at The Court House, Jury Street, Warwick, CV34 4EW.

The event will begin at 10:00 for tea and coffee, with the AGM starting at 10:30. We will finish the morning with a lunch. If you wish to attend, please sign up via this link.  

As a result, our Stratford Upon Avon office will be closed for the day but will reopen on Wednesday 14th November as usual.