by Martin Wrigley on 21 October, 2019
Last week I spent a day seeing what goes on inside the local Citizens Advice office. Sitting with Lynn and Vincent I saw a sample of the problems that our residents face on a daily basis, and I was very thankful that Citizens Advice with its team of highly trained volunteers boosting their minimal staff were there to help.
Citizens Advice’s mission is to provide free, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. They aim to help people find a way forward, whatever the problems they face.
My eyes were opened by some of the problems that Citizens Advice helped with – and all in total confidence so I can’t say anything about the details of the day.
I was there because since May I have been part of the executive at Teignbridge, and Teignbridge supports the Citizens Advice with funding. My role is all about communities, and I get the job of making sure that Teignbridge is supporting a range of agencies –including Citizens Advice – as well as making sure that the agencies are spending the funds wisely – and Citizens Advice certainly are doing that!
Just last year they helped over six thousand clients with over eighteen thousand issues. In the first quarter of this year they helped 150 clients in cases securing an average of £7,755 per client.
In the office they see a huge range of issues from a huge range of people: they are part of the Devon wide telephone support system that provides support even when your local office may be closed. They run satellite offices in Dawlish, Teignmouth and Chudleigh all from the main office above market Square in Newton Abbot.
Landlord and tenant disputes, help with Universal credit and the near 40 page application form for PIP (personal Independence payment) are high on the list of frequent issues and processes that lack empathy for people in need. The 5 week inbuilt delay in Universal Credit is putting too many people into dire straits, or hunger only helped by foodbanks. Domestic abuse happens more frequently than any of us might imagine, and hidden homelessness makes dealing with today’s bureaucracy a nightmares. What address do you use for forms to get help if you are sofa surfing or even living in your car?
In an age when each of us is said to be just two disasters
away from being destitute and living on the street – how would any of us cope
with both losing a relationship or home and losing a job in quick succession? –
I am so grateful to the people who work and volunteer at Citizens Advice. Just knowing that they are there to help is
reassuring. Knowing that they are there
for anyone and what they need when disaster strikes – no matter what that
disaster may be!
If you need advice and help from the Citizens
Advice, you can contact Citizens Advice by calling Devon Adviceline on 03444 111444, 9.00am–4.00pm
Monday–Friday. There are drop-in sessions in Newton Abbot ( 36-38 Market Walk)
, Dawlish (at the Manor House) or Teignmouth (at Teignmouth Library).
More details can be found online at https://citizensadviceteignbridge.org.uk/