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.
There will be a drop in session at our Leamington Spa offices on Monday 24th December kindly
supported by staff and volunteers. There is no drop in session on this date for Stratford upon
Avon on this day.
Both offices will then close from Christmas day and reopen resuming usual service from Wednesday 2nd January 2019.
May we take this opportunity to wish everyone a very good festive break from all of us at CASW.
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.
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.
Citizens Advice South Warwickshire has been awarded a total of £182,750. It’s the first time the Trust has given funding for a period of three years to secure the future for the core service.
Beth Nicholson, Marketing and Development Manager for Citizens Advice, said: “As a local charity, this grant means our frontline services are secure for the people of Stratford. We can continue to give our clients a lifeline when they are in difficulties and need help.
“Knowing that this funding is for three years makes a big difference in the current difficult climate. Just in the Stratford town area we supported more than 1,000 people last year and we are grateful for this grant, which will keep open our main office and our outreach services for the district.”
Rachel Jones, Head of Community Engagement for Stratford Town Trust, said: “We are proud and committed to support Citizens Advice South Warwickshire. Supporting some of our most key local charities and the significant impact their work has on local people. ”
Generous grants of more than £25,000 have secured the future for a vital help at home service for people in need in the Warwick town provided by local charity Citizens Advice South Warwickshire.
The Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler and Warwick Town Council have given the money to support the Reach Out and Help service run by Citizens Advice. The service helps people in crisis who aren’t able to access help at the normal advice sessions.
Since September 2016 one caseworker has helped 71 people in Warwick town, some of whom are very socially isolated. But the new funding means that the service could help about 132 people with issues such as benefits, debt and money management issues as well as getting access to the health and social care they need.
Clive Mason, Chairman of the Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler said: “Although the Charity has been well known for many years for its Almshouses in Warwick, it is now funding two other Care projects; one which provides night carers for Warwick Myton Hospice at Home and the other, which involves other Warwick Charities, provides two ‘Oken Nurses’ who are delivering enhanced care at home in Warwick. This new programme compliments these projects and the aims of our Charity very well and the Trustees are delighted to support another group of people in need in our Town.”
Yvonne Hunter, Chair of Trustee for Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said:
“We are so grateful for this support which we know will make such a difference to the lives of those who are disadvantaged, vulnerable or isolated. We will be able to literally knock on the door of people who are in desperate need of help and advice.”
“The problems we find behind these closed doors can be heartbreaking, but working with other organisations we are able put together holistic support to meet people’s needs and help them put life back together”.
Warwick Town & District Councillor for Saltisford Ward, Terry Morris said:
“Given that much of the excellent work undertaken by Citizen’s Advice takes place in Saltisford Ward, I was keen to sponsor a request for Warwick Town Council to provide funding for the much-needed Reach Out at Home Project. Once I became fully aware of the benefits of expanding the Project throughout Warwick, I was delighted to broker an introduction between Citizen’s Advice and The Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Efflyer – The Charity already supports a number of care initiatives for Warwick residents in need and I was confident that they would want to become involved in the Reach out at Home Project.”
The Reach Out and Help service in Warwick town is supported with a grant of £21,123 from The Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler, £5,000 from Warwick Town Council and is also helped by a £2,500 grant from Orbit Heart of England housing association.
Case Study with the names changed Mick is a 76 year old man living with his wife Eva in sheltered housing in Warwick. Mick is the primary carer for Eva who has Parkinson’s and early dementia. He was referred to us by his GP surgery as they were concerned Mick was not coping with his finances and struggled with his caring duties. He was getting increasingly confused and suffering from mobility issues as well as other physical ailments.
Soon after we started to help, Eva was hospitalized and transferred to 24 hr care. Our caseworkers helped Mick to explain the change of circumstances to different organisations, including the District Council that recalculated his benefits and helped him deal with his personal and previous business debts.
Mick’s paperwork was particularly chaotic. We managed to untangle it and pass it on to Ella, his daughter after we secured a free legal appointment for her to help arrange Power of Attorney and Appointee so she could control her parents finances. We arranged for Attendance Allowance and helped Mick get a Motability car. He has slowly been getting on top of his finances.
£4,280 per year Attendance Allowance
Water bill reduced from £480 to only £32.90 per year
Debt written off by Housing Association
Mobility car, which helps him visit his wife daily and pain free
We are still in touch with Mick, waiting for his wife to be discharged from hospital and ensure that Mick has sufficient benefits and support to look after Eva properly.
A Stratford volunteer with Citizens Advice has helped more than 6,000 clients during her 25 years service.
Jenny Wood-Hill started as a volunteer adviser in 1983, in the pre-computer days of carbon paper to type forms in triplicate and big paper files and reference books.
She told colleagues at Citizens Advice South Warwickshire that the service was very different without computers and the internet. The problems of clients today were usually more complicated than before.
Jenny said she had found volunteering very rewarding, knowing that she has been able to help so many people in difficult circumstances, and she appreciated the fantastic support and camaraderie of colleagues.
Yvonne Hunter, chair of the trustees of Citizens Advice South Warwickshire, thanked Jenny for her continuing service and said volunteers were vital in today’s difficult times.
Citizens Advice brought together key organisations in the South Warwickshire area who represent the communities we live in, but serve different needs. We wanted to see how CA and the wider third sector could work on these priorities and help those most in need. Our focus was on two areas – financial inclusion and health and well being problems. A full list of who attended can be found at the end of this summary.
The session was opened by Dave Webb, Executive Director of Stratford District Council, Chris Elliott, CEO of Warwick District Council and Phil Evans, Head of Community Services at Warwickshire County Council.
The common themes that emerged from all of their priorities were to work well with partner organisations, listen to the needs of the communities, be able to intervene earlier with problem issues and better use of technology.
The 10 workshop groups were able to bring their focus on the issues under discussion.
Since the workshops, we have taken the opportunity to pull out common themes and concerns raised through the workshop groups to bring them together in one document. We would like to continue this dialogue with some of our partners on these areas, which are priorities for us all.
As a very busy generalist front line service, CASW is able to help assist with many of the issues delegates identified and discussed. We are also aware that we all work better together as a partnership. Importantly CASW is often in a position to spot emerging issues at an early stage, by working with partners we can set up special projects or areas of help at an early stage.
Under the two headings, here’s a summary of the subjects that were raised and discussed. Our Chief Executive, Aidan Knox, is keen to establish a reference group to see if working with our partners we can find better solutions to these issues.
Financial inclusion Universal credit/welfare reform Delays in housing benefits Links to JCP Links to DWP There is a clear need to support people to be more prepared for changes to benefits
Housing Homelessness Lack of support for tenants Quality of housing (brought up a few times) Lack of social housing Accessibility to housing (Fordham housing, key workers’ housing) Sustaining tenancies e.g. Bromford Access to services Digital exclusion Rural transport
Health and well being
Mental health Vulnerability and different definitions Loneliness – aging population and losing a partner Greater awareness with statutory services of mental health and the multiple issues associated with it – e.g. the impacts on finance No support with benefits or housing unless they are in a crisis
How to get/signposting for help/partnership work
Good signposting to relevant well-being agencies Avoid duplication Statutory care providers difficult to access
Concluding thoughts With the wide cross section of groups who took part in the workshops and the shared expertise, it is apparent that more working together can help alleviate problems. There is a clear need for
Early intervention not crisis management. This applies to both health and wellbeing as well as financial inclusion. For many with mental health problems there is little support with benefits or housing unless they are in a crisis.
Important to maintain outreach to ensure we reach those physically/emotionally unable to reach offices. Given the rural nature of much of the area, an outreach/hub setting for statutory and voluntary services to work together is vital
Helping clients to deal with their issues by working with other agencies. There is pressure on social services to resolve issues quickly, but what about the need for ongoing support ?
Our thanks to groups who attended on the day Stratford upon Avon District Council The Royal British Legion Bromford Housing Association Warwickshire County Council Orbit Barnardos – Leamington Children’s Centre Job Centre Plus Coventry and Warwickshire Office of Jeremy Wright MP Addaction / The Recovery Partnership Grapevine Coventry and Warwickshire WRCC Warwickshire Rural Community Council Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action Royal Leamington Spa Town Council Kenilworth Town Council Stratford Town Trust Heart of England Mencap Springfield Mind Warwick District Council Harbury e-Wheels transport scheme Municipal Charities of Stratford-on-Avon