6,500 People Seek Help in the South Hams

22 November 2023

PRESS RELEASE: 6,500 PEOPLE IN THE SOUTH HAMS HELPED BY CITIZENS ADVICE

More than 6,500 people living in the South Hams benefited from help and support provided by Citizens Advice in 2022-23.

The latest figures are revealed in the charity’s annual report, published today, which also shows the work of advisers resulted in a £1.2 million gain in terms of benefits and compensation payments for local residents.

Citizens Advice South Hams Chair, Chris Peach, said:

“Our superb volunteers and staff have responded magnificently to the unrelenting cost of living challenges people are facing and continue to provide a lifeline for people struggling with benefits applications, debt, housing, relationship breakdowns and discrimination.

“We see people day-in, day-out who are struggling with energy bills, applications for disability benefits or in debt but just don’t know where else to turn.”

Other key statistics in the report, include:

  • £106k in savings to South Hams Council by preventing homelessness
  • £183k in savings to the NHS through reduced use of health services
  • Training 500 Citizens Advice staff and volunteers in the South West on specialist energy advice and policy
  • 58% of the people we saw had a disability or long term health condition.

Chief Executive, Janie Moor, said:

“As the cost of living crisis has swept us in the South Hams, we’ve continued to develop and evolve the service to meet new demands.

“We’ve opened new outreach services in Dartmouth and at Ivybridge Foodbank, continued to develop our specialist energy and debt teams and our service for Ukrainian guests and their hosts. We’ve also strengthened our partnership working with other organisations, including Devon County Council, South Hams Council, Totnes Caring and other local charities.”

Citizens Advice South Hams has also launched successful publicity campaigns in the district, including Scams Awareness and National Consumer Week.

Janie added: 

“We know there are still lots of people who need our advice and help, so we’ll be looking for new ways to reach them across the district, recruiting more volunteers and looking for new funding opportunities over the next few years.”

Citizens Advice South Hams provides a free, independent and confidential service for everyone in the community by phone, from our office in Follaton House, Totnes and outreach services in Bridgetown, Dartmouth, Ivybridge and Kingsbridge. See our website for details. 

 

CASE STUDY – HOW WE HELPED ARLEEN

Arleen is a single mum with two teenage sons. Due to poor health she is unable to work and she had built up debt on her electricity account. Citizens Advice EmPower advisers supported Arleen with a successful application to the British Gas Energy Trust to clear the debt. The bulk of her electricity usage was due to her sons’ lengthy showers each day. She was shocked by this and committed to cutting consumption. Arleen also puts on 10 loads of washing a week due to incontinence issues. She has since managed to reduce the number of loads each week. In total these changes in energy use have saved her about £400 a year and helped Arleen keep her energy bills at an affordable level.

ENDS

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A truly valuable service. My advisor was extremely helpful and reassuring. Thank you.

Deborah – December 2023

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