Who are Citizens Advice?
Citizens Advice is a national charity that helps people to resolve their problems. As the UK’s largest and most iconic advice provider they are equipped to deal with any issue, from anyone, including debt and employment to family issues and immigration plus everything in between. In fact nearly half the population has used the Citizens Advice service at some point in their life.
The Citizens Advice service offers information and advice through face-to-face, telephone and email services, and also online via www.adviceguide.org.uk
. Citizens Advice Bureaux deliver advice services from over 3,300 community locations in England and Wales, including high streets, community centres, schools, doctors’ surgeries, courts and prisons. Of the nearly 30,000 people who work across the Citizens Advice service, over 22,000 are unpaid volunteers.
What does Citizens Advice do?
As the name suggests, the bureau serves to advise citizens and therefore families of the UK. The 300+ bureaux throughout the United Kingdom have teams of volunteers and caseworkers who assist clients with numerous issues such as:
- Contacting creditors about debts
- Completing benefit claim forms
- Preventing legal action
- Representing in court
- Helping with housing issues such as rent arrears, bailiffs or social housing
- Advising on Immigration issues
These are some of the more common issues dealt with on a daily basis by citizens advice staff, but regardless of whatever issue is brought to them, they will be able to use their resources to advise clients as much as they can.
Who pays for Citizens Advice?
Citizens Advice works largely on a funded basis by local authorities, lottery funds, primary care trusts, charitable trusts, companies and individuals. All advice services provided by Citizens Advice are Free, Independent, Impartial and Confidential.
Support from specific funders has enabled many bureaux to provide dedicated, specialist support to specific groups, examples such as Cancer Support Charities (e.g. Macmillan), the Armed Forces, the Probation Service, Homelessness Charities (e.g. NHAS), Faith Organisations and Schools but to name a few.
Many bureaux have also developed bespoke services for clients who have particular advice needs within their local area. One such example is the Children & Young Persons’ Project (ChYPP) at Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau. The ChYPP team has been set up to work with 50 local schools and partner organisations to provide dedicated advice to the school users. The aim of ChYPP is to increase the life chances and opportunities for Coventry children by removing the barriers faced by their parents. ChYPP is a service that has been greatly appreciated by the schools involved and the communities they are supporting. The future of ChYPP is to expand on a national basis so more children and families can gain easier access to advice to improve their life chances and opportunities.
Where can you get help from Citizens Advice?
Most of the UK’s major towns and cities have a CAB office, or one very close by. To see if there is one near you, go to the Citizens Advice Website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk
. Many bureaux have a drop in service where you can go to get advice, or their own dedicated website for further information about what advice services they offer.