‘Citizens Advice’ still able to offer support during COVID-19

‘Citizens Advice’ charity moved to online help service to continue to aid those in need.

By Lauren Forester

Leslie Redwood, the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice BANES, tells us of the struggles the charity has faced in the midst of the pandemic. The charity is still able to offer support in this time, however, they have undergone a few changes.

‘Citizens Advice’ are currently unable to offer the face-to-face advice service they used to offer but have instead moved their 100 volunteers and 25 staff members online, offering remote services instead.

The pandemic has allowed ‘Citizens Advice’ to grow through partnerships with Macmillan, Community Wellbeing Hub and Achieve. These partnerships have ensured that there are enough volunteers to appropriately help those in need and specialise in much-needed services, such as debt and job advice. In the last five years, the charity saw a 50% reduction in funding but the pandemic has unlocked new partners and support as people have realised the importance of charity, especially during a pandemic. Citizens Advice’ are now able to give people the support they may not have been able to give before.

‘Citizens Advice’ takes a holistic to each individual’s specific needs. Since the first lockdown, people have needed more money and more food so, through a partnership with Community Connectors, they were able to deliver much-needed food and medicine. From the partnership, there were over 2000 volunteers, enough to have on covering every 2 streets in the entirety of Bath and North-East  Somerset.

However, ‘Citizens Advice’ are still in need of volunteers. They have lost many volunteers over the age of 60 as they needed to shield or had caring responsibilities so are currently recruiting volunteers who will need to go through a 6-8 week training program, or 3 months part-time training. The volunteers are essential as they are all on the front-line. ‘Citizens Advice’ wouldn’t be what it is without the help of its extraordinary volunteers.

Listen to Leslie Redwood, the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice BANES talk more in the interview below