Volunteer dedicates 30 years to Stowmarket Citizens Advice
- Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND
A woman who has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to volunteering for Citizens Advice, has revealed how times have changed since she started and which questions people are still asking.
Bim Wilson began volunteering in Stowmarket in 1991 when her children grew up and is now the longest serving volunteer for Citizens Advice in Mid Suffolk.
She said: "I was on telephone duty my first day and one of the questions I was asked was whether it was illegal to sunbathe nude in your garden or not.
"Well I really wasn't sure and I think I actually called the police who said it it would be legal as long as you didn’t cause a public nuisance.
"Back then we went through a very different system to be trained and it has changed a lot now.
"We didn't have computers but instead had ring binders and all 10 of us were volunteers — now there's over 40 staff and many of them are paid.
"Now we have two computer screens whereas we used to have to look everything up in the binders."
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Mrs Wilson, who lives in Earl Stonham with her husband, says some issues have developed over time, while others are still the same
"Life has got more complicated for people, but it's the same issues people are dealing with," she added.
"Systems such as Universal Credit are all online and some people don't have the facilities — I think some elderly people have been left behind and that results in some unfairness.
"Problems haven't changed much during lockdown and people have still struggled with debt, unemployment and financial concerns."
A keen gardener who likes to spend her time walking dogs and bell ringing, Mrs Wilson said she'd highly recommend volunteering and said it "gave her a purpose" and was incredibly rewarding.
She has no plans to step down anytime soon and has worked as a benefits advisor, generalist adviser and as a representative at tribunals.
Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk is looking for more volunteers to join their team in Stowmarket as Advisers and Trustees. For more information click here.