Sudbury and District Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice has always been a place where people can come to and speak with someone face to face about problems they have, and to seek guidance on services that can help to solve these. 

As lockdown took hold back in March, the team at Sudbury and District Citizens Advice had to make quick decisions on how they could continue providing these services, but in a remote method. A phone and email service became the prioritised option in order to keep the team of volunteers and the clients they serve safe from exposure to COVID 19. 

Funding received via the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund enabled this organisation to purchase new additional equipment and alternative technology that then allowed for a more smooth-running service, as the team endeavoured to reach all that needed their help. 

Over the past year, there has been an increase in demand from younger age groups, particularly people in their 20s and 30s. These tend to be clients who have the digital skills to use other access options rather than face to face advice. As a result, Citizens Advice volunteers were required to keep up with this demand, so a Training Development Officer for 15 hours per week was recruited in, paid for using funding received from the Foundation.  This helped enormously to keep the team up to speed on how best to service this younger client base remotely. 

Sadly, many of the over 60s client age group (who would normally make up the majority of client requests), have been unable to access the services of Sudbury and District Citizens Advice by phone or email as they simply don’t have access to these means of contact.  It is predicted that there will be many out there with complex and overdue problems once normal service resumes, creating a huge influx on demand on the services offered.  

As we move out of lockdown 3, the team will look to prioritise recruitment, expanding their adviser team as people look to rebuild their lives.  

When our loyal volunteers and staff agreed to  work from home so that we could continue to deliver advice by phone and email, it soon became clear that additional support was needed to maintain morale, to keep them engaged and, and with so many changes going on affecting people’s lives, to ensure that their advice always kept pace with this.  Thanks to your grant, which we used to employ a part-time trainer, they have received the help and support they needed to be able to continue help local people seeking our advice.

Colleen Sweeney

Chief Officer, Sudbury and District Citizens Advice

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