We are a local charity and free independent advice is our USP - Most people wouldn't know that we're a local charity and don't receive funding from national government or national Citizens Advice. We help local residents and people that work in the East Herts area with free and impartial advice to help them find a way forward. We normally give most of our advice face to face from our offices (we helped over 6,500 people last year) but as a result of Covid we have had to set up an advice service from volunteers' homes - with phone, email and webchat advice.
"They were amazing when our life fell apart. Without them I don't think I would be here." (Client)
We are helping those in need - We have helped nearly 2,400 people since Lockdown began (as of end June) - supporting on issues such as employment rights, benefits, bereavement, mental health, food bank referrals. We have mobilised our data and volunteer base to provide an outreach programme to the most vulnerable people in our community. One elderly client recently said "you are the first call I have had to make sure that I have everything I need, you have no idea how much it means". We don't want anybody to be left behind during this time.
The biggest problems are yet to come - As government support starts to fall away and people learn to adapt to the new 'normal' we expect many of our clients to face a financial cliff edge, with mounting debts and complex needs, as this article highlights - bit.ly/3d5YDdv. Our volunteers will, as always, be ready to provide support and advice.
We need to fundraise for our new service model - We are preparing for a socially distant future, where our flexible advice service is needed more than ever. That is what we are raising funds to achieve - we want to be able to help everyone that needs our advice, meeting people at their point of need. But we need to cover the costs of the equipment, training and support needed - estimated at around £20k. We have raised £8.5k so far and are actively fundraising for the remainder. We would love to raise at least £2k through this crowdfunding appeal - every penny raised is carefully invested. We are also fundraising to recruit specialist debt, housing and employment support workers to support client needs - we know that advice on these areas is going to be a real pressure point for people as government support is lifted.
Here's what your donation can do:
£100 can pay for a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) headset and power supply for a volunteer adviser (it makes it much easier for advisers if they are hands free)
£200 can help fund some of the supervision support and training needed for a volunteer adviser to work from home
£400 can help pay for the cost of a Money Advice Caseworker to support people struggling financially
£350 can pay for a laptop for a volunteer adviser to work from home
It costs on average £1,700 and takes about a year for our volunteer advisers to become fully trained and qualified, but they then stay with us for an average of 9.5 years!
But much more than that, for every £1 invested in our services we generate £22 in financial benefits for clients and the community.
More details at our website www.citizensadviceeastherts.org.uk
We've been working hard to get the word out about how we can help - as you can see from this article:
Thank you for taking the time to read this - please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more questions or would like to speak to someone.