Citizens Advice says thank you for 25 years of volunteering

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. 

 

Ends

 

Feedback from CASW stakeholder event November 2017

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

Expanding our services in Warwick at the Packmores Centre

Starting from Wednesday 14th June, Citizens Advice will run an outreach service at The Packmores Centre, Warwick. 

Running appointments every Wednesday between 10am – 1pm, drop by to receive advice on managing your money, benefits, debt, housing, employment, family, legal and many other issues. 

To find out more or to make a confidential appointment please speak to reception at the Packmores Centre or telephone 01926 492488.