Citizens Advice volunteers improved the lives of 9,600 Cheshire West residents

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

VOLUNTEERS working at Citizens Advice improved the lives of 9,600 people in the borough last year, latest statistics show.

Citizens Advice Cheshire West has published its impact report for 2016-17 in which 80 per cent of people say the advice they received had a positive impact on their well-being.

Staff provided information, advice and support to 12,000 people and were successful in helping seven out of 10 clients to solve their problems.

Seventy per cent said they felt less stressed and 46 per cent said their physical health had improved.

Citizens Advice Cheshire West is now appealing to prospective volunteers to join the team and help even more residents.

The impact report calculated volunteer time alone in the past year was worth about £620,000.

A spokesman said: “While advice is provided to the public on a wide range of issues, the report finds that the service does more than fix immediate problems. With full training given, volunteers help clients with issues relating to debt and money worries, benefits, housing problems and relationship difficulties, to name but a few.

“When you are struggling with a problem, knowing what action to take is not always obvious. More than two out of three clients say they had difficulty knowing who to contact or how systems work.

“The training provided ensures that volunteers know how to help and they always have a team leader on hand to support them.”

Most clients drop in to the office in Ellesmere Port or Chester and see an adviser face-to-face, but volunteers also help client by telephone, email and web chat.

“So even for those with only a few hours to spare there is always an opportunity to help,” the spokesman added. “That help really makes a difference.

“Many clients surveyed for the impact report said they had low confidence about taking action to solve their problems before taking advice. After receiving advice, two out of three said they would feel more confident handling a similar problem in the future, while three out of four said they were more knowledgeable about their rights.

“Knowing their time and advice makes a real difference to people is one reason why people volunteer at Citizens Advice. For some it is the training and skills development that is the reason and indeed one in three volunteers leaves for employment, further education or training. However, for a lot of volunteers it is the social aspect that means the most to them.”

Citizens Advice offices are located at The Bluecoat, Upper Northgate Street, Chester, and at 1 Whitby Road, Ellesmere Port.

For details or to apply to volunteer, email Helen.benham@citizensadviceca.org.uk 

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

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