Citizens Advice seeks new staff

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New staff and volunteers are to be recruited to help cope with the region’s growing welfare crisis.

Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service has announced the recruitment drive following the UK government’s welfare reforms.

It says the changes are resulting in millions of pounds being cut from the benefits system, and this has thrown thousands of vulnerable people into poverty.

As a result the Citizens Advice Service has seen an increase in its workload and is struggling to cope.

D&G CAS chief executive Sue Irving said: “The Citizens Advice Service has always been a vital source of advice for people on the lowest incomes who need help. But the scale of these current welfare cuts is shocking and is having a massive impact on people locally. So we are seeing an increase in the numbers of people who need our help and the worrying thing is that as the cuts continue this trend is set to get even worse.

“We’ve been stretched to capacity for the past few years but it’s no longer possible to meet these levels of demand on our current resources. So we have been working closely with Dumfries and Galloway Council to look at how we can meet people’s needs and I’m pleased to say the council has responded with an additional £215,000 funding package.

“We are, therefore, advertising this week for new advisers, a new post to develop and support our invaluable team of volunteers, and additional support to help people who are appealing against benefit decisions. We are also improving our efficiency with improved IT and telephony systems meaning we can respond to inquiries more effectively.

“The people who are affected are those who were already vulnerable and living on the edge of poverty. If you are struggling to get by and then see your meagre income cut by even a few pounds, that can push you over the edge. So if anyone is interested in working for us, please check the Galloway Gazette or visit our website www.dagcas.org.

“We also want to recruit more volunteers to work from our four Citizens Advice Bureaux in Annan, Dumfries, Castle Douglas and Stranraer. We offer comprehensive training and on-going support and personal development so. Volunteering for CAB is hugely rewarding as well as challenging so please come and join us and help to change people’s lives.”

D&G CAS won the Chamber of Commerce Charity of the Year Award in 2012 for its efforts to help local people in financial crisis. Last year the service saw 17,000 clients, helping many to avoid homelessness or bankruptcy.