Crawley’s Citizens Advice Bureau is on the look-out for more volunteers.
With most people’s new year’s resolutions having fallen by the wayside, the team at the charity in Brighton Road hopes to catch the attention of those still keen to take on a new challenge in 2015.
Tony Cox joined the team five years ago after taking early retirement, and described the satisfaction gained from knowing he had been able to help people whose lives may have taken a downward turn.
Tony, who works at the bureau every Thursday, underwent a 12-week training course and now deals with an average of five cases a day.
He said: “It’s all to do with outcomes really. When you know you’ve helped some one that’s quite nice.”
One particularly pleasing outcome came when Tony was approached by a woman with out-of-control interest payments on a relatively small credit card debt which she could never hope to pay off.
Tony helped her compose a letter to her bank and the outcome was an apology and a refund of the charges.
Another case saw a man unfairly fired following an argument with a work mate – none of which had been brought to the attention of his manager. A quick phone call to the manager saw the employee invited in to discuss the situation before being given his job back.
Tony said: “I really hate unfairness to people. I always put myself in their position and think it could easily happen to me.”
As well as doing their best to help people who walk through their doors, the team looks out for trends which may indicate a more serious national issue.
A petition bearing 15,000 signatures was recently handed to the Department of Work & Pensions to raise the issue of flaws in the Employment and Support Allowance.
The way the allowance’s appeals system was run saw the CAB inundated with case after case of people whose benefits had been stopped, leaving them with no way to buy food or pay the bills.
Crawley CAB has 50 volunteers on its books – but there is always room for more.
Communications officer Clare Mannsaker said: “The bureau is mainly staffed by a dedicated, passionate, friendly team of volunteers, who have varied backgrounds, careers and interests, and work in a variety of roles.
Demand for our service is always increasing, and as such we are always looking for new volunteers to join the team.”
Tony said: “I think there’s a place for everyone really because everyone has life experiences. You kind of feel you’re trying to help people and that’s really important. You don’t make any judgments of people, you just try to help.”