Citizens Advice wins Charity of the Year 2015
South Hams Citizens Advice is hoping to raise its profile locally and add new services on the back of its parent organisation winning a top national award.
Citizens Advice, the UK’s biggest provider of advice, has been named Charity of the Year for organisations with annual income over £10m, ahead of The Samaritans. It was cited for the huge positive impact its volunteers and staff deliver and also for being able to demonstrate and prove its impact.
“It was a privilege to be able to accept the award on behalf of everyone in our service,” said Gillian Guy, national chief executive. “Together we genuinely change our clients’ lives for the better. That is an incredible and invaluable thing, and it was this team effort that is recognised by this award.”
For South Hams Citizens Advice, extending outreach services for the most vulnerable, launching digital inclusion initiatives and raising its profile among young people are among the priorities for the next year, according to Janie Moor, manager.
Ms Moor is appealing to the 61 parish councils within the South Hams to help fund the new outreach work.
“If each parish could give us £100 that would be a fantastic support in helping keeping the outreach service alive and more accessible for people,” she said. “Many people still believe Citizens Advice is a statutory government-funded organisation rather than a charity reliant on donations and fund-raising.”
The South Hams charity, one of more than 300 local branches of Citizens Advice, continues to experience rising demand for its services. Ms Moor said it had received more than 7,000 enquiries in the 12 months to October, up from 6,780 in the 12 months to March. Benefits remain the leading enquiry area, followed by employment, housing and debt.
As a result of the advice given to the charity’s clients, £543,000 came back into the local economy during the first half of 2015-16, said Ms Moor. This figure includes new awards or increases in benefits and better deals on energy prices, but excludes debts written off.
The charity, whose mission is to help people solve problems by providing free, independent, confidential and impartial advice, is reliant on volunteers: it has more than 40 in the South Hams, on top of 8 part time staff.
Ms Moor is hoping to attract more young people as volunteers. As well as providing valuable work experience, she hopes this will help build awareness of the charity among young people. Nearly 25 per cent of the local population is aged 24 or less, but just 7.7 per cent of the charity’s clients comes from this age group.
Further information about volunteering, including an application form, can be found at www.southhamscab.org.uk or for an informal discussion contact Amanda Furse, Training Officer, on 01803 869230 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.