Citizens Advice help is always available

The Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service in Stranraer has been helping people in the area for almost 100 years.

As part of volunteers’ week, from 1 - 7 June, they want to highlight their work with those who find themselves in difficult circumstances.

Elizabeth Sykes, the manager of the office in Stranraer’s Lewis Street, is keen to attract new volunteers into the service as volunteering can be both rewarding and stimulating if you have a few hours to spare in the week and want to do something worthwhile with your time.

Volunteers are asked to make a minimum commitment of two session each week which translates to approximately seven to eight hours. Once trained you will be able to help people resolve problems connected with benefits, consumer issues, debt and money advice, housing, relationships, pension issues and work-related problems.

Mandy, who has been a volunteer in Stranraer since 1988 said: “I moved to Stranraer after recovering from a bad accident. I joined the volunteers here just to get out and about and meet people. It’s not only helping other people but also helping yourself and it keeps you mentally stimulated. It’s also a very social place where you can stop for a chat and a coffee.”

Fellow volunteer Barbara added that she had heard by word of mouth how good the service provided was before she decided to volunteer. She added: “It’s good for the soul to do this. You learn about life and I have found it has made me more confident.”

Norrie from Sorbie volunteered after his wife died.

He said: “I was a trade union official in Glasgow for years before we moved down here. When my wife was dying she said to me ‘you have a fine mind and you’re not using it’. She made me promise I would volunteer for citizens advice. She died in the November and I volunteered in the January. I spent my whole working life helping people with problems with work.

“Many people have difficulties with employment law, even employers so we run seminars about their responsibilities to their employees. This is all free advice. We advise clients by telling them what they should do, but they don’t have to take that advice.”

The service has outreach clinics in Newton Stewart twice a week and appointments can also be made by residents in Wigtown and Whithorn needing advice. Everything discussed is in the strictest confidence.

The Citizen Advice Service are celebrating volunteers week on Friday, 10 June, and if you want more information about volunteering for the service contact Elizabeth Sykes at 23 Lewis Street, Stranraer or telephone 0300 303 4321 or email info@dandgcas.org