To provide the advice people need for the problems that they face.
To improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives.
The first aim is what most people think of if they are asked what Citizens Advice do. The second aim is less in the public eye but is equally important.
When we see unfair policies and practices, we aim to change them. For example, if many customers are having difficulty completing a form it may be because the form is too difficult to understand. If it was clearer and simpler, it may save customers time. It could also save the council, government department or utility company money by minimising errors in forms.
Communications, Research and Campaigns
To support the needs of our communities, we work hard to raise awareness and understanding of the challenging issues affecting many of us.
Our innovative micro-volunteering programme was recognised with an additional grant from the Martin Lewis Foundation. The aim is to share our learning and provide mentoring to another Citizens Advice office to develop their own micro-volunteering opportunities.
Through our support – including telephone meetings, constructive feed back to their initial plans and proposals, sharing of materials – we helped others understand micro-volunteering, develop a framework to meet their objectives and reflect on progress as their project developed.
In January 2019, we participated in the Big Energy Week raising awareness of energy efficiencies and potential savings/benefits including switching tariffs/providers. Over the week we supported more than 80 individuals and many, many more took information and leaflets. Of those we spoke with a 100% said they now have a greater understanding of energy savings and 86% said their confidence had improved to take further action or seek support if required.
We support local policy initiatives, for example Merton’s strategic review of advice needs and provision. In 2018 a Merton Council survey on local advice and information service needs, showed over 1/3rd of residents had used CA Merton and Lambeth services within the year. Over 50% of local voluntary sector organisations said they signpost or refer their clients to us, making us the borough’s leading advice organisation.
In addition to our support services, around 16,000 unique visitors accessed information and support via our website. Individuals accessed a total of 83,000 pages during the year.
We also continue to develop our social media presence providing relevant news and information for clients, partners and other stakeholders.