Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire’s Richmondshire office has given advice to almost 400 people during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to the dedication of staff and volunteers.
Since the lock down began on Monday, March 23, Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire has helped 2,222 people with 6,985 issues across North Yorkshire.
In Richmondshire, volunteers and staff have helped 393 people with 911, often complex issues, since the lockdown was enforced.
Of those, 48 per cent had a long-term health condition or a disability.
Just under 40 per cent of these issues involved people having to move onto benefits due to the pandemic which was closely followed at 38 per cent by people having issues with employment.
The Richmondshire office has seen clients gain £40,105 since the lockdown started, mostly through conducting benefit checks.
The office has also helped get £69,266 of debt written off for clients at a time when six million people in the UK are now behind with their household bills.
The volunteers all had to adapt quickly to working from home when the lockdown was enforced with the charity quickly sending ‘volunteer work packs’ and technology to help them cope with the unprecedented demand for their services.
As part of Volunteers’ Week, which runs from June 1 to 7, the charities’ volunteers usually embark on their annual Richmondshire Volunteers walk followed by a meal in Richmond. This will be postponed until measures are safe this year. The volunteers have been keeping morale high by organising regular online quizzes and sharing photographs of what they are up to after they finish work.
Carol Shreeve, chief officer at Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshire said: “Throughout the year our wonderful volunteers contribute their time and energy, to support and advise people, helping to keep our vital service running.
“I’m immensely proud of the huge difference our Volunteers have made to the community in Richmondshire, not just since the Pandemic struck, but every single day.
“We have seen our services in demand more than ever with a 209% increase since the pandemic started and our Volunteers have managed to make a huge difference in their clients lives, often being their lifeline when it comes to vital financial and family support”
“We anticipate a second wave of people needing our help, with employment, housing and benefit issues. This will be a result of when the government eases emergency measures such as the suspension on evictions and the furlough financial scheme decreases for employees for example”
“I have every confidence in our fantastic Volunteers and Staff being able to cope with the predicted second surge in demand for our services and we are currently implementing measures to make sure we are ready for it.
“I cannot thank them enough for their continued dedication. We really couldn’t do it without them.”
If you need advice in Richmondshire call Citizens Advice Mid North Yorkshires Adviceline on 0300 3309 036 or visit https://citizensadvicehrs.org.uk/