In uncertain times, it’s reassuring to know vital public services are still available to offer help.
Joe McCormack, CEO at West Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau, explained how the CAB service evolved since lockdown was introduced in March 2020.
“Although our doors were closed, we continued to operate throughout the lockdowns.
“In the period from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021, we helped just under 3,500 clients to deal with more than 21,000 issues.
“By very quickly re-organising we were able to provide much needed advice in relation to Covid-19, furlough schemes, employment rights, Universal Credit and on debt payments.
“We continued to offer a telephone advice service and to respond to enquiries made via our web page, our Facebook page and by email. \
“We were also able to arrange in-office appointments for some of the most vulnerable people whom we felt needed to speak to someone face-to-face.”
Joe is pleased to confirm that volunteer advisers, who had to step back last year, commenced re-training a few months ago and plans for the gradual drift back to in-office work are now well underway.
Joe explained the changes made to enable WDCAB to move towards the new normal. “Social distancing has forced all of us to review our premises and consider how we keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic – unfortunately having larger interview rooms means fewer rooms in number.
“We will have to limit access to in-office face-to-face appointments to those clients we feel are most in need.
“In all other cases we will look to divert people to telephone appointments and video conferencing or advice via email.”
The challenge we all face now is to provide a public service – whilst minimising the risk to staff, volunteers and service users – to as many people as possible.
We hope that these new methods of contacting WDCAB will prove effective for people concerned about what happens now we’re moving out of lockdown.
We know many people are worried about how they’ll pay the bills, whether their jobs are safe and what help they can get. WDCAB advisers are committed to helping.
CAB can be contacted via: