We’re facing rising need, with fewer people
The aftershocks of the pandemic are bringing pressures far greater than those we saw in lockdown. Inflation and job worries mean many more people will need our support, at a time when our own resources have been severely reduced. As our new chair of trustees says, we have a strong skill base and we understand what we must do so that our excellent paid and unpaid advisers can continue their vital work. We cannot do it on our own.
Also in this newsletter…
Reopening soon: We have given our Leamington offices a big spring-clean (without even waiting for spring), and we are now doing the same in Stratford-upon-Avon, ready for reopening to clients soon.
Enjoy our video: We ran a series of lively workshops before Christmas, seeking clients’ views as we reshape our service for the digital age. If you don’t know how co-production works, here’s your chance to find out. It’s quite fun.
Shop talk: The community supermarket concept is coming to south Warwickshire and we will be there, offering advice to budget shoppers.
Read our Winter newsletter here
Citizens Advice South Warwickshire would like to thank all of our partners, funders, clients, volunteers and staff for their support through this unusual year. We are proud to say we never stopped serving our community in south Warwickshire, despite the current pandemic.
During the festive period of 2020, we have limited capacity from Friday 18th December until Christmas Eve, 24th December. We will then close on Christmas Eve until Monday 4th January. This year, more than any other, this enables us to give our volunteers and staff a well-earned break.
As always, you can find online advice at any time – night and day – on Citizens Advice’s website.
We would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday and a brighter 2021.
Ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Citizens Advice South Warwickshire is reminding consumers of their online shopping rights and how to make sure they stick to their budget.
Citizens Advice Consumer Service has seen the number of people seeking help about online shopping nearly double, with almost 125,000 online shopping-related issues raised so far this year compared to 74,000 in the same period in 2019.
With England still in lockdown, sale shopping will look a little different this year so Citizens Advice South Warwickshire experts are on hand to make sure you know your consumer rights and help keep within your budget.
Advice Manager Jenny Harding, shares their top tips to help consumers stay safe online: “If you buy online, unless it’s bespoke, made to measure, or you’ve broken a digital or hygiene seal, by law you will get an automatic 14-day cooling-off period. This starts the day after you receive your order, and there doesn’t need to be anything wrong with the item for you to get a refund. If you buy something in person, shops aren’t legally required to accept returns for unwanted goods. Despite this, the shop may choose to have its own returns policy. If it does, they must honour it, so it’s worth checking your receipt.”
If you’re worried your purchase is faulty: If something’s gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you may be entitled to a refund. You’ll have legal rights if you unwittingly bought an item that is broken or damaged, unusable, not what was advertised or doesn’t match the seller’s description. You’ll have to move quickly, if you’ve bought a faulty item sellers must give you a refund if you return the item within 30 days. Your rights don’t end after 30 days, though after this period the retailer doesn’t necessarily have to refund you, instead they have the option of repairing or replacing the faulty product.
If you’re worried about scams: Be careful not to end up with a counterfeit item. Secure websites should start “https” and have a padlock symbol in the taskbar. Be wary of spelling or grammar mistakes, and companies that don’t provide an address.
Also seek out reviews of the seller from other buyers as these can help you decide whether or not you trust the seller. If there is a lot of negative feedback from other people, it’s often a sign that something’s not right.
If you’re worried that something you’ve seen online might be a scam, you can get help from the Citizens Advice Scams Action service.
If there’s a problem with your Black Friday or Cyber Monday delivery: With more people buying online, more people are experiencing delivery problems. 46% of adults in the West Midlands have had a parcel delivery problem since the first lockdown in March.
If you bought something to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you. If the seller used a delivery company, they should chase the company to find out what’s happened to your order – it’s not your responsibility.
Check the delivery address you gave the seller. Then contact them and ask where your order is. Be careful in selecting safe places; if you nominate a safe place and the parcel is stolen you might have lost the right to a replacement.
We give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem.
Notes to editors:
Our annual report and impact and project summary, together with a financial overview for 2019-20 can be found here: Impact Report 2019-20.
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