Wealden Citizens Advice celebrated a year of success at their Annual General Meeting at Crowborough Community Centre.
At their AGM on Friday (27th November), supporters heard how in 2014/15 they helped 4,131 people with 20,884 issues. The service achieved a staggering £2.4m in improved financial outcomes for their clients, including £1.9m in previously unclaimed welfare benefits and tax credits. The team assisted over 100 people at risk of losing their home and helped clients manage over £3.6m in debt.
Thanks to two year funding from the Big Lottery Wealden Citizens Advice, in partnership with other local organisations, was able to offer new services from its three offices in Crowborough, Hailsham and Uckfield.
Together with the Brighton Housing Trust, Home Start East Sussex, SEAP, Age UK East Sussex, East Sussex Disability Association, Sussex Community Development Association, Clued.up-info in Crowborough, Rotherfield St Martin and Hailsham Food Bank, they have helped over 470 individuals and families with complex needs in housing, welfare benefits, money advice and advocacy. Many of these people would not have been able to get help if the service had not been available locally.
The Lottery funding has also enabled Wealden Citizens Advice to offer 5 day a week opening, including a daily telephone service, advice by email and by skype. The service has implemented an on-line referral portal so that people such as doctors, teachers and other services can refer people who need help.
Chief Executive Kay Birch said:
Thanks to the support of the Big Lottery we have been able to achieve so much more by working together, sharing expertise, training and premises. We want to maintain and expand our partnership for the benefit of Wealden residents. That will be a challenge now the Lottery funding has ended, but it has left a strong legacy on which we can build.
Bob Johnson, Chair of Trustees, said:
I want to pay tribute to the staff, Trustees and volunteers of Wealden Citizens Advice and our partners and funders for all they do. Our team has coped with an enormous amount of change this year and have done so with their usual enthusiasm and commitment.
Many people don’t realise we are a charity with 90% of our 120 strong team made up of volunteers. Not only do we provide a great service, but in these times of financial constraints, we provide great value for money. It is estimated that for every £1 invested in Wealden Citizens Advice, we save the taxpayer £2.46 and provide public value worth £13.16 – the time of our volunteers alone is estimated to be worth £600,000 – they are simply irreplaceable.
For more advice call 03444 111 444 or visit the bureau at Croham Lodge in Crowborough (Monday to Thursday from 9.30am til 3pm).
Click on the following link to download a copy of their Annual Report.