A volunteer advisor at Haverhill Citizen’s Advice Bureau has given her support to the CAB’s appeal for more people to becoming a volunteer.
Alice Balchin has volunteered at the bureaux for two years and is keen for others to do the same.
She said: “Our band of volunteers are a friendly lot, we have a camaraderie that adds to the pleasure of helping people. People of any age can volunteer, and we are flexible on childcare and other commitments”.
Haverhill CAB is part of the West Suffolk CAB, an independent charity.
Alice added: “It can be a challenging role, but an extremely rewarding one, and we always have support from a supervisor who has more experience in advice and helps us to spot issues surrounding a problem.
“I feel like I’m learning something new every day, it is so interesting. I also enjoy my second volunteering role in campaign work which is really exciting and would value some additional help to make greater changes locally and nationally.
“We advise people on benefits, debt, employment, housing, relationships, and a variety of other problems.
“Every day is different. The gratitude we get from clients when we have helped sort out a problem that has been worrying them to death is quite touching. I love volunteering here.”
Below are two case studies that show the kind of impact volunteer advisors can have at the CAB.
Mr B, 64, is recently bereaved and was devastated by the death of his wife of over 40 years.
Money was always tight but receiving bereavement benefit helped manage household bills.
When this stopped, no one told Mr B that he needed to re-apply for pension credit.
As a result, he lived on private pensions of £75 per week through one of the worst winters in recent years.
After the Bureau intervened, I received confirmation that I have been awarded Pension Credit.
I have also received back-payments of over £1,300.
“Everything is sorted, including my home phone which was disconnected when I could not pay the bill.
“I can’t thank the CAB enough for all the help you have given me. I’ve learnt a lot and tell friends and family to seek help from CAB if they need a helping hand.”
“Fred” and “Mabel” have a 10 year old daughter and live in private rented accommodation.
Mabel was diagnosed with MS when she was 21 years old. For many years she worked hard with her husband running their own business.
As her health deteriorated her care needs increased and she relied more on her husband for help with her care and mobility needs.
The recession hit their business hard. When they met the MS team they were struggling to make ends meet and were drowning in debt.
We helped them to apply for benefits and assisted them both to apply for bankruptcy.
Grants were obtained from the Royal British Legion and MS Society for bankruptcy fees, a mobility scooter, a shed for the scooter and Sainsbury’s vouchers to buy clothes for their daughter.
With a stable income and no debts they were able to have a fresh start and look forward to the future.