With budget cuts and austerity measures continuing to make life difficult people may well be turning their attention to areas of need within their own communities. Citizens Advice Waverley is a local charity helping local people to solve their problems and improve their lives. It relies on the support of the local authority and town and parish councils, as well as donations from local groups and individuals.
Waverley may not appear to be an area with a significant numbers of people in need. However, appearances can be deceptive. There are pockets of social deprivation across the whole of Surrey where child poverty, areas of low income and poor mental health are prevalent. These problems are often concealed by neighbouring wealth which keeps Surrey’s struggling residents hidden from view. While Waverley is ranked as one of the least deprived areas in Britain it is still home to families, many of them in work, who struggle to make ends meet.
For some households the shock of one small upset or life event is enough to tip the delicate balance between ‘just about managing’ and not managing at all; and living in an affluent area like Waverley can make things even harder. Last week in this column we looked at the high cost of housing to buy in Waverley and how this has forced private sector rentals to be way above the national average.
Last year volunteer advisers at Citizens Advice Waverley helped over 5,000 local people on the phone, by email and webchat, or face to face. Nearly half of those people faced problems with debt and benefits.
Mike’s story (not his real name) is typical of someone in need of crisis support (client confidentiality is never breached)
Mike lost both his legs in a road traffic accident. For the last 10 years he has depended on his mobility car to get him to and from work. However when he was moved from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) he wasn’t awarded enough points to keep his car. This significantly limited Mike’s ability to get around, not least to get to his part-time job. Citizens Advice Waverley supported Mike through the Mandatory Reconsideration process with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) but unfortunately this was unsuccessful and he had to return his mobility car. Unable to go back to work and worried about the knock-on effects of his reduced income volunteer advisers at Citizens Advice Waverley supported Mike in making a formal appeal. The appeals hearing overturned the original decision and reinstated his payment for his mobility car. Mike is now back at work and receiving his full mobility allowance.
Giving vulnerable people a voice and empowering them to solve their problems helps everyone in the community. Last year Citizens Advice Waverley helped local residents to secure nearly £1.9 million in unclaimed financial entitlements and helped to manage nearly £2.4 million of debt. We helped 141 local families under threat of homelessness stay in their homes. Citizens Advice Waverley saves local taxpayers money by preventing problems from escalating and by supporting local residents to manage their own lives. To continue this vital work Citizens Advice Waverley needs your support. If you would like to help more local people receive the advice they need, please visit our website www.waverleycab.org.uk and follow the links. All donations are used directly to support local people.
Worried about something?
Don’t put it off – Citizens Advice Waverley can almost certainly help. For free, independent, confidential advice call:
0344 848 7969