New Mental Health Money Advice Service launched
We are very excited to announce the appointment of a new Mental Health Trainee Money Advice Worker. Barbara Burford, who has 27 years experience as a mental health nurse, has joined our team in our busy Stroud office. Working 3 days a week (Wednesday - Friday), she is going through a fast-track money adviser training programme to become a fully qualified money advice worker and will then take on a caseload of people with mental health issues and money problems.
Funded by the Martin Lewis Innovation Fund, we hope that this one-year pilot project will demonstrate the invaluable role that advice services play in addressing mental health needs and that it will improve the partnership working and referral routes between Citizens Advice and the 2Gether Trust for the benefit of users of both services.
You can download more information about this project here.
Celebrating our wonderful volunteers
This week we want to thank all our volunteers for solving people’s problems and making a difference to their lives.
To mark Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), we are shining a spotlight on the remarkable contribution of its team of over120 volunteers who, together, give up around 890 hours each week to help people find a way forward.
In the last year, ca-scd has helped nearly 6,000 households with almost 16,000 problems ranging from housing and debt issues to benefits and employment rights.
Our volunteers have played a crucial role ensuring people in all parts of the Stroud and Cotswold Districts get the advice and support they need to get on with their lives.
We offer a wide range of voluntary roles - from IT support and advisers to administrators and trustees.
Callum, a recent graduate who has been volunteering with Citizens Advice during the summer holidays for the past three years whilst studying for a law degree, said: “I find volunteering alongside the group of friendly and dedicated people at Citizens Advice a fantastic experience. It’s a chance to get involved with your local community, meet people from all walks of life, and develop transferrable skills that employers love. It is an incredibly worthwhile way to develop as a person and demonstrate your sensitivity and ability, as well as being a chance to show that you are able to handle confidential information and help people who are often in distress. “
Sally Pickering, Chief Officer at ca-scd, said: “Thanks to our amazing volunteers we are able to continue making a huge difference to people’s lives. Our volunteers give up their time for free to help people who may be going through problems to get back on their feet.
“Volunteering also brings its own rewards and is a great way to meet new people and learn new skills.
“We’re currently looking for someone who can spare a few hours to provide admin support to our debt advisers and also for someone who could help vulnerable clients complete their Personal Independence Payments (PIP) claim forms. We’re also looking to recruit a new Treasurer to our Trustee Board: trustees are volunteers too!”
“If you can spare a few hours each week and are interested in any of these roles, we’d love to hear from you. Just contact us using the form here.
Award for Cotswold Team
Our team in the Cotswolds is celebrating being recognised at the Cirencester Business Awards 2017 where we came joint Runners’ Up in the Best Team of the Year category.
Sally Pickering, Chief Officer, said “I’m so proud of my team in Cirencester: the volunteer advisers and receptionists and our small number of paid staff have together helped nearly 2,500 households to resolve a wide variety of problems in the past year, from money difficulties to employment issues, housing and family matters. With most volunteers giving around 9 hours a week, working together as a team to provide a seamless services to our clients is absolutely vital. Volunteers give each-other so much support and this team spirit is a large part of why people love to volunteer with us.”
Ms Pickering added “People often don’t realise that Citizens Advice service in the Cotswolds is provided by a locally funded and locally focussed charity which relies on the support of the local community so the Business Awards Event was a great opportunity for us to promote the work we do in the local community and to build new partnerships and we appreciate the Chamber of Commerce supporting us in this way.”
Citizens Advice take part in new Going the Extra Mile (GEM) partnership project
We are excited to be partners in a new project called Going the Extra Mile (GEM). the GEM Project aims to engage with and support individuals in Gloucestershire who are currently dealing with circumstances that are potentially causing barriers to work and move these people closer towards education, training, volunteering or work, including self-employment. WE know from our experience that, for many people, difficulties debt, welfare benefit problems or budgetting on a low income is a real barrier to people being able to move forward in their lives so we are pleased to be able to offer money advice to people who are involved in the GEM programme.
This programme is a unique partnership of community based organisations, managed by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council.
The GEM Project is jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.
For more information, please visit glosgem.org
Advice provides positive benefits to health and wellbeing
Our recently published Health and Poverty Impact Reports for the Stroud District and Cotswold District shows how access to appropriate and timely advice from Citizens Advice Stroud & Cotswold Districts has had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people who've used our services.
The first section of the report focusses on the links between health and advice:-
- The majority of our clients live in poverty and there are demonstrable links between health inequalities and social and ecomomic inequalities.
- Their problems have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing with 2 out of 3 clients saying their problems made them feel stressed, depressed or anxious.
- However, clients report that the advice we provided had a positive impact on their health and mental wellbeing with 4 out of 5 saying that, after receiving advice they felt less stressed, depressed or anxious.
The second section shows how our advice impacts on the various determinents of health including: child poverty; fuel poverty; disability; homelessness; employment and domestic abuse.
The third section highlights some emerging trends:
- We expect the roll-out of Universal Credit to lead to a greater need for advice on benefits, digital inclusion and financial capability.
- An increase in household debts such as council tax, rent and utility arrears is anticiapted.
- The condition of porperty and security of tenure for private rented sector tenants are likely to be issues of increasing concern.
- Fuel poverty cases caused or excacerbated by prepayment meter issues have risen steadily and we expect the trend to continue.