Your local Citizens Advice is now open FOUR DAYS A WEEK !!!
Thanks to additional funding we have been able to obtain, we are now open on Thursdays, in addition to the usual Monday to Wednesday, for drop-in and appointments, as well as telephone advice. We continue to offer free, confidential independent advice to local people based in the heart of the community at the Eden Centre.
One aspect of what we do that is less well known is our ‘research and campaigns’ work. We occasionally get involved in campaigns to try to improve local services. We understand, for example, how the loss of local Post Office facilities would adversely affect the community. You can let us know if this would have a particular impact on you.
All year round we gather data from our clients about issues that have impacted them, along with all the other local Citizens Advice offices around the country. This data is then sent to Citizens Advice in London, and is used to run national campaigns to try to change the laws and policies that are fundamentally unfair or which have unintended or disproportionate consequences. Recent successes have included the tightening up of rules relating to the actions bailiffs can take, new controls being brought in to regulate ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ schemes and the ability to claim help with childcare costs in advance rather than in arrears.
The Cost of Living crisis has affected pretty much everyone and we know this has had a big impact locally but for those on fixed incomes, the disabled, pensioners and those who were previously ‘just about managing’, it has meant they have been unable to cope with inflation busting price rises and astronomic energy costs.
We have seen a big increase in the demand for our services with 225 new cases being opened in the last quarter compared to just 170 in the same quarter the previous year. And it doesn’t feel like the increased demand will abate any time soon.
We have seen referrals to our brilliant local Foodbank increase significantly and have also been able to apply for Fuel Vouchers for our clients under schemes run by Kent County Council.
Some government support will continue throughout 2023:
Those on a qualifying low income benefit, such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit, will receive an extra £900 this year, in three instalments.
Those in receipt of disability payments, such as DLA, PIP or AA, will receive an extra £150.
All pensioners who get the Winter Fuel Allowance will receive an extra £300.
We are always happy to run benefit checks to make sure people are getting everything to which they are entitled – many pensioners don’t realise they are entitled to Pension Credit to top up their income as well as help with paying their Council Tax. We can also help complete the lengthy and complex forms to enable disability benefits to be claimed. 64% of our clients have disabilities or long term health conditions.
Sian Hiller, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Edenbridge & Westerham said:
“We have broken our own record this last year with over £200,000 of confirmed financial gains for our clients – and this just represents the gains that clients come back and tell us they have achieved with our help – the true figure is no doubt much higher.”
We couldn’t provide the service we do without our brilliant band of dedicated and highly trained volunteers. If you would be interested in finding out what it takes to volunteer with us – whether as an adviser or in one of our other volunteering roles such as helping with admin, customer service, fundraising or research & campaigning – please do get in touch by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget that you can contact your local Citizens Advice in many different ways:
Ring our free Adviceline on 0808 278 7962 from Monday to Thursday 9.30am to 4pm
Call into one of our drop in sessions at the Eden Centre on Monday to Thursday from 10am to 3pm
Email us anytime at: email@example.com
Appointments also available in Westerham