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”