Citizens Advice West Suffolk (CAWS) has helped more than 6,900 people during the past year of the pandemic.
Varying numbers of staff and volunteers, but recently totalling as many as 90, have been working from home to make sure people from Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Haverhill, Mildenhall, Brandon and the surrounding villages could still access much-needed help. We quickly adapted to help more people remotely instead of face-to-face. Perhaps unsurprisingly, benefits, employment and debt have been the issues on which clients have primarily come to us for support during the pandemic.
Between 1 March 2020 and 28 February this year, we helped 3,400 people with benefits including Universal Credit, and 1,125 people with employment issues.
Carol Eagles, the Chief Officer at CAWS, comments:
“We’ve all had to adapt to change throughout this pandemic. We’ve spoken to people who’ve never used Citizens Advice before, have never claimed benefits before and have had a steady income for years. Suddenly, they feel as if the rug has been pulled from under them and they don’t know what to do.
We’re here to listen, support and then help them find a way forward, and it’s rewarding to hear the relief in their voices at the end of the call.
Our advisers have been able to help people check what benefits they’re entitled to, navigate the furlough scheme, and ensure they’re getting all the help and support that is on offer. We know people are also going to need our help as we begin on the road to recovery, and we urge anyone who needs some support to get in touch as soon as possible.”