Press Release ~ To mark National Student Volunteering Week, Citizens Advice Ipswich thanks University of Suffolk law student volunteers for their valuable contribution to our advice team

Citizens Advice Ipswich is celebrating National Student Volunteering week (10-15 February) by thanking the University of Suffolk Law Students who use their time to help people face problems that may seem complicated or intimidating as part of our Advice Team at Tower Street.

As part of a partnership, a number of University of Suffolk Law Students spend a day a week with Citizens Advice in Ipswich training into advice roles. This gives them the chance to put their study into practice and gain experience of how the law affects people in their everyday lives.

Training Officer and Students

The scheme is a WIN WIN partnership – the students gain valuable work experience and Citizens Advice get to help more clients by expanding our volunteer workforce. Over 70 clients have been helped to date by the student volunteers since October.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Officer said:

“Not only do the students gain valuable experience which stands them in good stead for their careers, but our volunteers here love having them around with the passion and commitment they show and the perspective they bring to the team. Long live the partnership with University of Suffolk!”

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Reilly Willis, Lecturer in Law at University of Suffolk added:

‘We are pleased to be able to offer our students this module, called Clinical Legal Practice, as part of the Law Degree at University of Suffolk. It gives them valuable client facing experience and enhances their communication skills which will be great when applying for jobs or further studies. In this module the students have been putting the law into practice in a wide range of scenarios and developing their client contact skills. They will compile a portfolio of legal issues and consider the law as it impacts on peoples’ everyday lives as part of their academic studies.’

Don’t just listen to us, though, this is how former volunteer advisers say volunteering with us at Citizens Advice Ipswich helped them get on with their careers in law and finance …

Although I have not pursued a career within the legal sector after studying law, I have very recently been promoted to a regulated role within the finance sector (Mortgage and Protection Manager). The time I spent volunteering at the CAB helped me immensely, as it was the first time I was in the live environment helping and advising customers with their needs and budgeting. Without CAB I’m not too sure I would have started a career in the banking sector.

Lworking for a High Street Bank

Volunteering at Citizens Advice was one of the best choices I have made, as I was surrounded by like-minded individuals who are passionate about helping the people who are in need of it. I have gained invaluable interpersonal skills when advising clients. I would urge anyone who wishes to pursue a career within the legal profession to volunteer.

Tcurrently working as a claims assessor for a firm of solicitors

I found that my experience at Citizens Advice was incredibly useful at developing legal skills that are not acquired as part of a typical law degree, particularly client-focussed skills such as interviewing clients to gather relevant information about their enquiries; identifying clients’ objectives; and preparing accurate attendance notes of meetings. Citizens Advice was also a referee for my application to join a law firm as a trainee solicitor; I still work at the firm, now as a qualified solicitor in its dispute resolution department.

Mworking as a solicitor in Ipswich

Citizens Advice gave me the confidence to interview and advise clients in a supportive and professional environment.

Scurrently volunteering with Suffolk Law Centre and continuing training in law as well as advising with us here at Citizens Advice Ipswich

student volunteering week

Ending the benefits freeze won’t stop families facing the choice between heating and eating

MPs voted to end the benefits freeze by agreeing to increase income-related benefits by inflation on Monday.

While a welcome move, new analysis by Citizens Advice shows that almost 4 in 10 households that seek debt advice and receive these frozen benefits would still not have enough money to cover their costs by 2024 – even if these rises were to continue in future years.

Citizens Advice has helped people such as Sheila, 64, who works part time and receives Universal Credit. Her payments can change on a monthly basis, making it hard for her to budget and cover her monthly costs. She is trapped in council tax and rent arrears, and has had to resort to a foodbank.

She said:

“Quite often I don’t have any electric, so I’m very cold. I can’t even make a hot water bottle to keep warm, or make a hot drink. I have to stay under the duvet.

“Even in the months when I am paid my full Universal Credit and wages it’s still really hard to afford everything, including food.

“It’s all swings and roundabouts, I just don’t have enough money coming in to pay the council tax and rent arrears, the actual council tax, buy food and top up my gas and electric.”

The analysis from Citizens Advice found that the number of people who are unable to cover their living costs has increased since the benefits freeze began in 2016. In the first five months of the current financial year, 40% of the people the charity helped with debt who claim income-related benefits didn’t have enough money to cover their living costs – an increase of 25% since the freeze came into effect.

Citizens Advice is continuing to call for the government to help address this problem by increasing income-related benefits by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) plus 2% for four years, and to recalculate Local Housing Allowance, which determines housing benefit for private tenants. This will help provide families with financial security and protect people from further hardship.

It also argues that changes to benefit levels need to be accompanied by wider reforms to ensure the benefits system as a whole provides people with the right support. This includes ensuring Universal Credit gives people enough to live on by reviewing areas such as the amount of money retained by working claimants, and deductions for those dealing with debts or repaying advance payments.

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Our evidence shows that increasing numbers of people simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet. While a step in the right direction, increasing benefits by inflation will not go far enough to help solve this problem.

“The benefits system was created to support people in times of need. The government should show it’s serious about meeting this ambition by properly investing in working-age benefits, and making sure fewer families are left in a downward spiral with no way to pay their bills.”

Vacancy ~ Tenants Committee of 19 Tower Street Ipswich

Building Caretaker

Contract: Permanent subject to probation period

Salary: £16,777 pro rata – £8.72/hr

Hours: 10 Hours per week (8.30am – 10.30am but flexibility required)

Closing Date: Friday 31st January 2020

Interview Date: W/c 10th February 2020

The Tenants Committee are looking to appoint a Building Caretaker to support with the day to day running of 19 Tower Street Ipswich.

The successful candidate will have good interpersonal skills, a flexible approach, and will reside within 20 minutes of 19 Tower Street in order to respond to emergency callouts.

You will have the ability to work on your own initiative, prioritise your own work and meet deadlines.

Ideally, you will have previous experience of Caretaking and basic maintenance.

For application forms please contact: Carl Ward – Office Support

Tel: 01473 219770

or via contact form on this site.

‘Protect yourselves on Black Friday and Cyber Monday’ Citizens Advice Ipswich offers top tips for safe and savvy consumers

In the last year, Citizens Advice consumer service has dealt with almost half a million consumer-related issues like faulty washing machines, undelivered parcels and fake designer goods. Over 50,000 of these were during November 2018, by far the busiest month for the consumer service.

Black Friday which is on 29 November this year, and Cyber Monday, 2 December, mark the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

With the sales just around the corner, Citizens Advice Ipswich is guiding consumers on how to buy and budget smart. Even though the prices are reduced, your consumer rights are fully protected.

If you change your mind about a purchase

Unless you made your purchase online, shops aren’t legally required to accept returns for unwanted goods. Despite this, the shop may choose to have its own returns policy. If it does, they must honour it, so it’s worth checking your receipt.

If you buy online however, unless it’s bespoke or made to measure, by law you will get an automatic 14-day cooling off period. This starts the day after you receive your order, and there doesn’t need to be anything wrong with the item for you to get a refund.

If you’re worried your purchase is faulty

If something’s gone wrong with an item you’ve bought, you may be entitled to a refund. You’ll have legal rights if you unwittingly bought an item that is broken or damaged, unusable, not what was advertised or doesn’t match the seller’s description.

You’ll have to move quickly, as you only have 30 days to return something that’s faulty with the guarantee of getting your money back. Your rights don’t end after 30 days, but after this period the retailer doesn’t necessarily have to refund you, instead they have the option of repairing or replacing the faulty product.

If you’re worried about scams

Be careful not to end up with a counterfeit item. Secure websites should start “https” and have a padlock symbol in the taskbar. Be wary of spelling or grammar mistakes, and companies that don’t provide an address.

Also seek out reviews of the seller from other buyers as these can help you decide whether or not you trust the seller. If there is a lot of negative feedback from other people, it’s a sign that something’s not right.

If you’re worried that something you’ve seen online might be a scam, you can get advice with a Citizens Advice Scams Action adviser by calling 0300 330 3003. Alternatively, you can visit Citizens Advice Ipswich at 19 Tower Street, Ipswich, IP1 3BE.

If there’s a problem with your Black Friday delivery

If you bought something to be delivered, it’s the seller’s responsibility to make sure the item is delivered to you.

If the seller used a delivery company, they should chase the company to find out what’s happened to your order – it’s not your responsibility.

Check the delivery address you gave the seller. Then contact them and ask where your order is.

Tips to stay within your budget:

    As well as making sure you’re clued up on your consumer rights, don’t get roped into buying something you can’t afford. Citizens Advice offers the following tips to make sure you’re staying within your budget:

  • Spend time shopping around, researching what deals are on offer and getting advice.
  • Always look at the total amount you will have to repay when borrowing money. A shorter repayment period may be better than a slightly lower Annual Percentage Rate (APR) amount.
  • Take care when looking at buy-now-pay-later deals. It might seem like a good option but you’ll need to make sure you pay on time in future. If you don’t these deals can be very expensive.
  • Never borrow money on the spur of the moment. Think about payment options beforehand. Work out your budget and stick to it so that you can afford the repayments.

Nicky Willshere at Citizens Advice Ipswich says:

“At this time of year many people may feel the pressure to part with their money.

“It is important that anyone thinking about turning to credit or taking out a loan to help pay for purchases understands the full costs involved and if they can actually afford to pay it back.

“If you are struggling with your finances, it is important to do something about it as soon as possible. You can get free debt and money advice from Citizens Advice to find a way forward and avoid spiralling debts.”

Trainee Money Adviser / Debt Caseworker

Contract: Initial 12 month contract

Salary: £17,000

Hours: 37 Hours per week

Closing Date: Friday 22 November 2019

Interview Date: W/c 2nd December 2019

Ipswich Citizens Advice is looking for a well organised trainee Money Adviser/ Debt Caseworker to join our expanding Money Advice Team.

The successful candidate will be trained into providing an in-depth casework service to the organisation’s clients, working face to face as well as by telephone. You will therefore need a good working knowledge of money and debt advice, the ability to prioritise cases efficiently and the ability to work as part of a team.

Ideally, you will be have a background working with clients in a financial setting; and be willing to work towards becoming a qualified Debt Relief Order Intermediary.

For application forms please contact: Carl Ward Office Support

Tel: 01473 219770

or via Contact form on this site

For informal discussion please contact: Nelleke Van Helfteren – Deputy Manager

Tel: 01473 219772

Address: 19 Tower Street

Ipswich

IP1 3BE

Happy Birthday Citizens Advice – want to come to our party?

Citizens Advice Ipswich - Newspapers

Citizens Advice Ipswich calling out for volunteers old and new to celebrate with us Wednesday 4 September at 5.30 at Christchurch Mansions at our Annual General Meeting.

Wednesday 4 September we celebrate our 80 birthday nationally and our 45th birthday here in Ipswich. We will be celebrating at Christchurch Mansions and would welcome anyone who has helped us get this far.

If you volunteered or worked at Tower Street or if you were helped by us back in the day and would like to come along, do get in touch to let us know you are coming via the contact form.

Citizens Advice Ipswich gets Training Facilities Makeover thanks to The Rotary Club of Ipswich Wolsey

The Rotary Club of Ipswich Wolsey have agreed to sponsor a much-needed makeover of the Training Room at Citizens Advice Ipswich. The Club have paid for computers and presentation equipment for the room plus new chairs and desks. This means that volunteers can access the training materials they need in a purpose-designed space to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge and access to tools needed to provide the quality chartermarked advice given to clients, whether by phone, email or face to face.

Bob Boxall-Hunt, Chair of Trustees said:

‘Citizens Advice Ipswich are immensely grateful for this sponsorship to update our facilities for our volunteers. We currently run one induction course per month plus ongoing training and individual coaching sessions for trainee advisers. The new equipment being funded by the Rotary Club means that our core funding can be used to support other essential services for the smooth running of the service.’

Our service relies heavily on the people who generously give their time to volunteer for us, in the past year, 9,946 hours of time was donated by our team. They work tirelessly in such a professional manner to support the community and create a wonderful working environment for everyone. I can’t thank Team Ipswich enough and now I would like to add my thanks to Rotary Club of Ipswich Wolsey for this generous gift.’

Hours volunteered in 2018-19 ~ 9,9465
Client contacts ~ 10,768
Issues dealt with ~ 18,923

Press Release – Citizens Advice Ipswich on hand to advise holiday makers if there are issues with flights

As holidaymakers in the Ipswich area prepare for the summer, Citizens Advice Ipswich is on hand in the event of flight issues

Traditionally over July and August, Citizens Advice Ipswich sees a surge in people who have issues with flight delays, cancellations, and delayed and lost luggage.

With many now packing up to go on their summer holidays, Citizens Advice Ipswich is offering travellers top tips to help their holidays run more smoothly.

Delays

If you’re travelling either to or from an EU airport or with an EU airline, under EU rules you might be entitled to compensation if you’re delayed. You can check to see if your flight is covered by EU rules on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website.

Citizens Advice top tips:

  • Airlines should provide you with assistance depending on how long your flight is delayed, where you were flying to, and how long the journey is.
  • It’s best to contact the airline or the Civil Aviation Authority right away to see what you’re entitled to.
  • Unless the delay was due to exceptional circumstances, you could be entitled to up to €600 in compensation depending on the length of the flight and delay.

Cancellations

Fortunately, if your flight gets cancelled you have the legal right to either a full refund paid within seven days, a replacement flight to get you to your destination, from another airline if necessary, or an alternative flight at a convenient time.

Citizens Advice top tips:

  • Depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight, the airline may have to help you with food and drink and access to phone calls and emails. It may also have to provide accommodation if you’re delayed overnight. You can check what your eligibility is on the Citizens Advice website. – in all cases
  • If you choose to get an alternative flight, you may be entitled to compensation in the event of a cancellation if either the replacement flight delays your arrival by more than two hours, or your flight was cancelled less than two weeks beforehand.

Strikes

Industrial action can wreak havoc on your holiday plans, so it’s important to know what your rights are. In the event that staff from the airline you’re travelling with are on strike and you’re either delayed or your flight has been cancelled as a result, your rights are the same as with other cancellations or delays.

Airline employee strikes are not deemed to be extraordinary circumstances, which means that depending on the length of your wait you may be entitled to compensation. The Citizens Advice website can help you calculate how much, if any, you’re likely to be owed.

Luggage

If your luggage is delayed, lost or damaged and the airline is at fault, you have the legal right to claim compensation from the airline.

Citizens Advice top tips:

  • Act quickly and check deadlines. You may have to claim within seven days of your flight.
  • You can claim money from the airline that would cover the bare essentials you need while you’re away, like toiletries, or for part of the cost of replacing or repairing your goods.
  • If you have travel insurance or home contents insurance that covers luggage, you might be better off making an insurance claim instead. You may get more money and find it easier to claim this way, depending on your excess.

Airline goes under

In the unfortunate case that your airline goes out of business you may be able to get some money back. But the method you booked by – direct or third party, credit card or debit card, or booking as part of a package holiday – can all affect your compensation, and your travel insurance.

Citizens Advice top tips:

  • If your flight is ATOL protected it means that you are guaranteed a refund if a company collapses. If you’ve booked flights through a travel agent the ATOL scheme should apply.
  • If your flights aren’t ATOL protected you could try claiming against your credit card company under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. To be eligible, you need to have paid more than £100 for the flight, and to have paid some of this amount with your credit card. For more information see the Citizens Advice website.
  • Airline insolvency can sometimes be included on travel insurance policies, so it’s worth contacting your provider to check to see if your policy covers ‘scheduled airline failure’.

Nicky Wilshere, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Ipswich, said:

“Flight problems can be very frustrating, especially at this time of year. As well as being inconvenient, issues like delays, cancellations, and lost luggage can be costly.”

“Knowing your rights, booking ATOL-protected flights, and taking out comprehensive travel insurance will protect your holiday plans before you fly. We hope that with these top tips, people will enjoy a stress-free journey, from Ipswich to wherever they’re travelling to.”

You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on
03454 04 05 06.

Press release: Suffolk Law Centre and Citizens Advice Ipswich launch an exciting new partnership: Improving Access to Health Justice in Suffolk

Press release: Suffolk Law Centre and Citizens Advice Ipswich

21/06/2019

Improving Access to Health Justice in Suffolk: an exciting new partnership between legal advice and health care providers is launching on 28 June at an event at Ashtons Solicitors at 1.00pm.

  • According to research undertaken by Citizen’s Advice, 19% of GP time is spent on non-clinical problems, costing the NHS almost £400 million a year.
  • Patients bringing their worries about employment, housing, access to welfare benefits and relationship issues have a serious impact on health & wellbeing but are reducing time available to focus on medical issues in GP appointments.
  • When these problems stay unresolved they have further impact on peoples’ mental health which increases demand for mental health services.

Suffolk Health Justice Partnership (SHJP) is proud to launch its first report on the role of legal advice in improving health and wellbeing in Suffolk: ‘Improving Access to Health Justice in Suffolk’.

The SHJP was set up by Suffolk Law Centre and Citizens Advice Ipswich and aims to brings together professionals from the legal, advice and health sectors.

With funding from The Legal Education Foundation (TLEF), SHJP commissioned research to explore the impact of social prescribing in healthcare settings in Suffolk. Social prescribing is a model being trialled across GP surgeries around the country which enables GPs to directly refer patients to a range of services or activities which may improve their health and wellbeing. The model can be particularly effective for those experiencing long-term mental health problems and vulnerable groups. Research by Citizens Advice nationally has found that 8 out of 10 GPs felt they didn’t have enough time to focus on clinical care because of the additional issues that many patients were bringing to appointments, such as needing help with debt or benefits.

The SHJP recognise the benefits that social prescribing can bring for patients and health services but are concerned that the most common link worker model does not provide more specialist advice that many vulnerable people need. Steve Allman, an independent consultant and researcher with an extensive background in the health and social care sector was commissioned to carry out this research.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Ipswich said,

“This report is an important part of the jigsaw that is being built to improve access to health justice and appropriate advice in appropriate settings across the county. By working together, I know that the advice, legal and health sectors can transform the lives of people living in Suffolk.”

Audrey Ludwig, Director of Suffolk Law Centre said,

“We are pleased to collaborate with Citizens Advice to embed social welfare law into health settings. This frees up medical practitioner’s time because evidence shows early advice brings improvement in health and well-being. We now need to work to make the scheme countywide and sustainable and also to recognise the need for specialist legal advice and casework.”

citizens advice ipswich logo

Suffolk Law Centre logo

Vacancy – Training Supervisor

Training Supervisor

Contract: Initially 24 month Fixed Term contract (subject to funding)

Salary: £18,300 pro rata

Hours: Full or Part-time work considered

Closing Date: 15th July 2019

Interview Date: tba

An exciting opportunity has arisen at Ipswich & District Citizens Advice Tower Street office for a Training Supervisor. The role is to provide a recruitment service for volunteers and paid staff and to support them through their learning journey within the organisation. This includes conducting inductions for new staff, organising training events and maintaining comprehensive records for all staff.

You will be confident with recent experience in organising training events and supporting learners. You will have excellent communication skills (both verbal and written) and feel comfortable communicating with a diverse team. You will have the ability to motivate individuals and provide constructive feedback in order to improve performance. You will have the experience to coach and mentor trainees to meet their full potential. You will have excellent organisation skills and be able to prioritise your own work to meet the needs of the organisation.

If you would like to be part of our busy team and help make a positive difference for the people of Ipswich then we would like to hear from you.

For an application form please contact: Vicki Markham – Administrator
(Tel: 01473 219770 or e-mail bureau@ipswichcab.org.uk)

For an informal discussion please contact: Nelleke van Helfteren Deputy Manager
(Tel: 01473 219772)