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

 

Ends.

Easter closure – Friday 10th and Monday 13th April

Citizens Advice South Warwickshire will close over the Easter Bank Holiday. Please remember, our comprehensive website is available at anytime and can be found at www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Our current virtual service will reopen on Tuesday 14th April.

How to get the help you need:

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:

 

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. 

 

 

Christmas closures

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. 

 

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. 

 

Stratford Town Trust generous three-year grant

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. ”

Reaching out to people in need in Warwick

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.  

 

From left to right, Cllr Terry Morris, Warwick Town Council, Beth Nicholson, Marketing and Development Manager, Citizens Advice South Warwickshire, Dr Ann Thurley Trustee and Clive Mason Chairman of the Charity of Thomas Oken and Nicholas Eyffler

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.

Outcomes:

  • £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.