Rise in demand for advice as Suffolk charity helps clients manage £1.4m of debt

Mayor of Stowmarket Linda Baxter, chair of Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk Michael Wangermann, manager o

Mayor of Stowmarket Linda Baxter, chair of Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk Michael Wangermann, manager of Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk Carol Eagles and trustees Picture: CITIZENS ADVICE MID SUFFOLK - Credit: Archant

New figures reveal the citizens advice bureau in Mid Suffolk has helped its clients manage a total of £1.4million of debt in just one year – and demand is rising.

At its Annual General Meeting, Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk reported that in the last year it had addressed over 9,300 issues and helped more than 3,400 people – with a 6% increase in client numbers in 2017/2018.

The charity has also helped people claim more than £1million worth of benefits, and managed £1.4million of debt.

The work done by the 50 volunteers had been officially valued at more than £390,000.

Carol Eagles, manager of Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk, said their research had found that people predominantly wanted face to face advice, followed by phone then web chat – and confirmed that the charity will trial a web chat service as part of a new package of support for Universal Credit claimants.

Mrs Eagles also appealed for more volunteers to help the charity deal with the increase in demand.

Michael Wangermann, chair of Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk, said: “We are a local charity and we rely on local support.

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“My thanks go to our funders for providing the financial support that we need to be able to provide advice at no cost to our clients. We couldn’t do it without our fantastic staff and volunteers and we are looking for more volunteers to join us.”

Derrick Haley, chair of Mid Suffolk District Council, added: “Although Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk have told us the statistics about the reach of their service today, this can’t really measure the real positive impact they have on people’s lives.

“The volunteers at Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk do an excellent job at advising people on how to solve their problems.

“If it wasn’t for their work to help people, then the council would have to pick up the pieces.”

Linda Baxter, Mayor of Stowmarket, spoke of her own experience encouraging residents to use the charity.

“In my professional life, I send people to Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk and they make a real difference,” she said.

“That’s why I chose them as one of my Mayor’s charities. We are fortunate in Stowmarket to have this excellent service.”

For advice, members of the public can call the charity on 01473 676060.

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