Show of faith as Trust keeps service running in Stratford

Stratford Town Trust has shown its commitment to helping local people by extending its core funding of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire – despite having faced funding pressures of its own during the pandemic. 

It has made a grant of £63,000 for the current year, continuing three years’ previous core funding that has enabled the local charity to maintain its visible presence in Stratford-upon-Avon. 

“Without this grant we would struggle to meet the advice needs of people in the town, which we continue to do over the telephone whilst we make plans for seeing vulnerable clients face to face.” says Julie Robinson, the new CEO at Citizens Advice South warwickshire (CASW).

The trust has also helped fund the training of volunteers. It costs more than £3,000 to train a new volunteer from scratch, and approximately £1,800 a year to beyond that. The trust has also enabled CASW to train some advisers as champions in areas such as debt and employment.  

Julie has been humbled by the trust’s resolve in continuing its support when, like many charities, it has experienced a loss of income during the Covid-19 crisis. “Despite that, they recognise the importance of our work at such a time” says Julie. 

The Trust exists to enhance the quality of life in Stratford-upon-Avon – and funding support for people with problems is one of the most effective ways to do that. Much of its income comes from properties granted to the town’s Guild and College Estates from the 13th century onwards. 

Strict charity rules mean its funding can only be used to support Stratford residents. That includes meeting roughly a third of the annual costs of the Citizens Advice South Warwickshire’s office in Meer Street where the charity plans to stay for years to come.

“We have had a presence in Stratford for 50 years” says Julie. “It means people know where to come. People know who we are and what we can help with – which is every person, with every issue. The Pandemic has made seeing clients face to face impossible, but we are working to find a way to support those who need to see one of our amazing volunteer advisors in a safe way as we head into the autumn months. Meanwhile our telephone service means that we continue to support many clients who would otherwise struggle to move issues forward.

James McHugh, Grants Manager for Stratford Town Trust, says “we are extremely proud to support CASW and the vital, much-needed work it does for our community. Even before the pandemic, Citizens Advice South Warwickshire played a vital part in improving the health and wellbeing of residents, working with them to get the help and support they need. 

The impact of the pandemic has seen the work of CASW – it’s fantastic staff and amazing volunteers – be needed more than ever. We see CASW as valued partners, alongside the Trust, with a joint aim of creating a thriving, vibrant Stratford”

Reach out and Help (ROAH) Stratford – Caseworker

Hours: 15 hours per week – fixed term till 30.09.2022 (possibility of extension subject to funding)

Responsible to: Partnerships & Inclusion Manager (and other delegated staff)

Pay: £20,751- £25,295 (FTE based on 37 hours per week) 

pro rata depending on experience

Location: Stratford Office and or working from home


Since 2013 ROAH Stratford has supported our local community to access relevant help and support in Stratford. CASW is looking to recruit a home visiting caseworker based in the Stratford district. This role re-connects some of the most vulnerable people living in social isolation in Stratford with services which can support them. In addition to this caseworkers deal with a complexity of issues to resolve the underlying issues causing people problems in their lives. Since April 2021 this role has supported people from designated ward areas which have had a rise in universal credit benefit claims. Caseworkers work closely with local organisations to ensure people in need receive a holistic and supportive service from start to finish. 

Working alongside a highly experienced caseworker on this project, you will be allocated referrals and act in a timely manner to respond, as the clients referred into this project often require urgent support.

In order to be considered for this role you will need to have

  • Minimum 12 months advice experience with Citizens Advice or a similar organisation.
  • Experience in dealing with people living with severe mental health issues
  • Demonstrate sensitivity, emotional resilience and a non-judgemental attitude. 
  • Excellent communication skills, confidence and patience 
  • Skills in advocacy, advice and support – depending on the needs of the client. 
  • Awareness of your own personal safety at all times and of those you are in close contact with
  • Ability to work as part of a multi disciplinary team internally and with external organisations.
  • Willingness to undertake further development or training as required by this project.
  • Ability to work independently, with or without close supervision of the specialist caseworker. 
  • Use of own transport and visiting clients in their own homes.

Above all else, you should have compassion and drive to help change people’s lives for the better and provide excellent quality advice for the people of Warwick. Our staff/volunteers are currently working from home providing telephone, email advice and support. Home visiting has been resumed for extremely vulnerable clients subject to safety checks.

The closing date for applications is: Monday 4th October 2021 @5pm Interviews will be held via video conference w/c: Monday 11th October 2021


Click the links to find the: 

ref J3 ROAH Stratford Caseworker Job Pack (contains Job and Personal Specification)

Staff Application Form

Notes on completing application form

Please send any questions about the role to recruitment@casouthwarwickshire.org.uk 

We look forward to receiving your application.

Bright future for the partnership of Stratford’s Foodbank and local Citizens Advice

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.

left, Marion Homer, Manager at Stratford-upon-Avon Foodbank and right, Julie Newton Caseworker at Citizens Advice South Warwickshire.

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.”  

#KeepTheLifeline Citizens Advice South Warwickshire 2021

  • Local charity says 47% of people seeking its advice on benefits have never needed its support before
  • Number of people claiming Universal Credit in Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick districts has risen by 106% and 127% respectively since the pandemic began

Local charity, Citizens Advice South Warwickshire, has warned of the “devastating impact” of a scheduled cut to Universal Credit in April.

Staff and volunteers at the charity have helped 1,177 people with Universal Credit since March last year. Around 47% of people in south Warwickshire seeking its advice on benefits have never contacted the charity before.

Advisers say many needing support from the benefits system have lost their job or suffered a drop in income as a result of the pandemic.

Citizens Advice South Warwickshire, which has continued to provide one-to-one support throughout the pandemic, warns that local families could be pushed into further hardship if the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift ends as planned in April. 

For households in the West Midlands region, the loss of £20 a week is equivalent to two and a half days of food and 6 days of energy costs.

Yvonne Hunter, Chair of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire, said:

“We support people every day whose lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic. For many of them, Universal Credit is the lifeline that has helped pay the bills and put food on the table.

“But households across south Warwickshire now face the devastating prospect of a £20 a week cut to their benefits in just a few short months. 

“With a tough outlook in the jobs market, we’re urging the Government to continue doing the right thing and maintain the Universal Credit uplift.”

 

 

Reaching out to people in need in Warwick

Citizens Advice South Warwickshire has rounded off its 80th anniversary celebrations securing more than £125,000 in funding for a vital project helping people in crisis in Warwick.

The charity, founded during the Second World War to offer free, confidential and impartial advice, will receive an annual grant of £42,000 for the next three years from the Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler. The grant will support the Reach Out and Help project and a new debt support service.

In light of the current pandemic, this new expansion comes at a much-needed time for Warwick town residents as job losses and difficult economic times are expected. The service helps people in crisis who aren’t able to access help at normal advice sessions.

Clive Mason, chairman of the Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler, which was set up in the 16th century, said: “This year has been harsh for many people in our town and the trustees have spent considerable time selecting projects that will have the greatest impact for those in need, which is the principal aim of our charity. We are therefore delighted to continue to work with Citizens Advice South Warwickshire for a further three years, enabling them to expand this service at a time of crisis. This programme complements other projects that we fund, which focus on mental health and early years support.”

Yvonne Hunter, chair of trustees for Citizens Advice South Warwickshire, said: “We are so grateful for this support, which we know will enable us to help those who are disadvantaged, vulnerable or isolated. The pandemic is expected to have a deep impact on people who are already living in desperate situations. A commitment for a further three years and with a greater focus on debt will equip us to deliver a real difference to many people.

“The problems we find behind these closed doors can be heartbreaking, but this new project seeks to offer not only advice and advocacy support but much needed formal debt support with a dedicated debt worker to meet people’s needs and help them put their lives back together,” she said.

Ends

Note to editor:
Citizens Advice South Warwickshire (CASW) is a local, independent charity working to serve people in need across south Warwickshire. We support nearly 7,000 annually making a huge difference to their lives through the dedication of our 26 staff and our 130 volunteers.

Citizens Advice South Warwickshire’s AGM

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. 

Ordinary business:
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.

Special business:
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