A wise person once said, ‘When you are up to your neck in alligators it is sometimes difficult to remember that your reason for being there in the first place was to clear the swamp.’ In other words dealing with problems we encounter every day sometimes means we can lose sight of the bigger picture – which can also mean we forget to look at what we have actually achieved.
This is true of the advisers who are the backbone of the Citizens Advice service. Providing people with impartial, independent, confidential advice on how to deal with their problems is at the heart of what advisers do; and while there are always plenty of ‘alligators’ for them to deal with it is important to remind them of how the swamp clearance is going.
Which is why Phil Davies the Chief Executive Officer of Citizens Advice Waverley writes to advisers at the end of each year listing their achievements during the previous twelve months. Before each of the four offices in Waverley (Cranleigh, Farnham, Godalming and Haslemere) shut up shop for the Xmas break Phil was able to report to advisers just what they had achieved in the borough in 2017.
- Over 5,000 people helped through the core service
- Nearly 2,000 additional people helped through webchat and email
- Nearly 16,200 issues dealt with
- Just under 21,000 contacts made
- Over 360 social issues raised
- Almost 200 people provided with foodbank support
- Almost 80 homeless people seen
- Over 140 people threatened with homelessness helped
- £2.4 million of debt managed
- £1.8 million in income gained.
Here are two examples of what people said after being helped by their local Citizens Advice last year.
“I was so stuck and didn’t know what to do. I’m so lucky to have had your support and guidance.”
“You gave me hope and reassurance. I found myself singing on the way to work the following day. I can’t express how grateful I am for your advice.”
Advisers are trained to give advice that is impartial, independent, confidential AND free at the point of delivery. Which means that while people pay nothing for any of the advice they receive the cost of training volunteer advisers (who give their time for nothing) and providing them with offices and support has to be paid for somehow. This is why Citizens Advice Waverley (CAW), like every local CAB is an independent charity. Most of CAW’s funding comes from Waverley Borough Council which means it has to compete with other demands on the Borough’s dwindling finances. The town councils and parishes also contribute.
Although finding the money to provide advice services across Waverley is increasingly difficult, CAW will continue to provide free advice for as long as it can (even though local offices may have to reduce the number of hours they are open). Meanwhile, you can get information and advice on how to deal with Debt, Benefits, Work, Consumer Issues, Relationships, Housing, Law and Rights, Education, Discrimination, Tax and Healthcare by:
- calling 0344 848 7969 to speak to an assessor or make an appointment to talk to an adviser face-to face. (calls to this service cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package
- visiting https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ to access our comprehensive range of information and advice
- or follow us on https://twitter.com/waverleycab