A word from our Chair of Trustees

In October Peter chaired our AGM. He is Chair of our trustee board and is passionate about the work we do.

“At our AGM in October we were very pleased to elect 4 trustees to the board, 3 who were standing for re-election, having completed their 3 year term, together with a new trustee who will bring additional skills and experience to the board.

img_0173

“We give thanks to our funders while recognising the challenge of continually securing funds for the future of the service and our sustainability.

“Giving advice to people who are struggling for whatever reason or acting on behalf of people who are overwhelmed by the situation they find themselves in enables them to move forward in life.

“For some it is enabling them to take accountability, signposting where they need to be and the steps they need to take and that help is sufficient and liberating.

“For others with complex situations or who are less able to help themselves the advice and support given can be life transforming, moving them out of situations that were spiralling out of control. In these situations, injustices can be corrected, abuse and exploitation can be highlighted and dealt with and dignity of life rebuilt.

“Staff and volunteers are able to use their existing expertise or be trained to help, guide and develop those who need help. They demonstrate a servant heart with a passion to help those who need it and as a result know that what they do is worthwhile and vital.

“The board of trustees honour and applaud all who are involved in this work at Ashfield Citizens Advice”.

Advertisements

Jirina’s Volunteering Story

I was asked to write about the reason why I started volunteering for Citizens Advice. My first reaction was: “Easy!”, “Simple!”

jirina-pasport-photoSo, I sat with a pen and paper to put down key points down and …. the “Easy” suddenly became extremely difficult.

First of all, I realised that there is certainly not just one reason, there is a whole complex of motivations and reasons that brings you to the CA office for the first time. You do not think about a particular one, you just want to do it.

And this helps us to understand where actually it all starts –  it is YOU, your personality, your urge to pass on your knowledge and your passion to learn new things, your desire to gain new skills, actively use your current skills and to add a higher value to them, your hope to become a valuable member of the team. You also know that you possess great passion and respect for people, without limits, without prejudice.

Well, this was your first step. This is the beginning of the long journey, possibly one of the most rewarding in your life.

I started volunteering in May 2016. I work as a freelance interpreter working for DWP and HMRC.  I just wanted to utilise the knowledge I gained about benefits, UK justice system & law. I still keep my job while volunteering and it seems to work quite well, both my jobs nicely complement each other.

Volunteering for Citizens Advice is for me, based on my short experience, a never ending process of learning new things and skills from the highly qualified team of professionals, who help you with your first steps, support you whenever you ask, happily pass their knowledge and lead you on your way.  Carefully prepared training helps you to gain confidence for all tasks laying in front of you on that long journey of worries, hesitation, joy and satisfaction.    

The long journey at the end of which it is again YOU, trying your best to help people who have found themselves at difficult point of their life.

Allen’s Volunteering Story

I have now been working for the Citizens Advice in Kirkby in Ashfield for 12 months on a voluntary part time basis.

img_01282Initially I was given some computer based training to complete. This was complemented with some formal training in relation to adviser skills and basic training around Benefits and Housing.

The training is taken at your own pace and there are plenty of opportunities to see how seasoned advisers deal with clients and their issues. I was mentored by the very helpful and experienced staff within the office.

I soon felt comfortable and at ease within the environment and full training is given in relation to using the on line guidance. Once the training has been completed your mentor will sit in your initial interviews until they and you feel comfortable doing them on your own.

I now feel part of a very worthwhile and trusted workforce who are non-judgemental, sympathetic and extremely patient and understanding. Their collective skills and experience ensures the highest care and attention to the needs of clients.

Being part of the team fills me with pride and satisfaction in knowing that the advice given helps individual clients to resolve their issues and they do not have the stress of dealing with the issues alone.

I would encourage people to volunteer because of the benefits for the organisation and the many clients but more importantly for the feeling of satisfaction derived from helping people.

Julie’s Volunteering Story

img_0117

Julie has been volunteering at Ashfield Citizens Advice for almost two years as a volunteer adviser.

Only attending a local job fair to keep my husband company, I filled in a form expressing an interest in Ashfield Citizens Advice. After leaving an NHS career to bring up our son, I was wondering what to do next. Although I have a small part-time job, I felt I needed office experience.

Training was very interesting but also quite demanding and time consuming. However, there has always been a lot of support form training staff and other volunteers.

Working at Citizens Advice is very rewarding. It isn’t easy and can be emotionally draining. The fact that you can help someone to help themselves though far outweighs this. If someone comes in with a sad, worried face and goes out smiling, it feels like you have done something worthwhile.

Working at Citizens Advice has given me more confidence and belief in myself and my abilities. There is always something new to learn in respect of updated legislation and policies.

It’s good to work with a great bunch of people at something that I enjoy. Try it!

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with us, visit our website and let us know!

Protection for people renting property are starting to come into play…

IMG_20160905_151220Mosina is a supervisor at Ashfield Citizens Advice, and wrote the following about the Deregulation Act that came into force in October 2015.

The provisions in the Deregulation Act are designed to protect tenants against unfair eviction. These extra rules apply only if your tenancy starts, or you sign a new contract to renew your assured shorthold tenancy, on or after 1st October 2015. These provisions do not apply where a statutory periodic tenancy arises on or after 1st October 2015.

What is retaliatory eviction?

Retaliatory eviction is where a tenant makes a legitimate complaint to their landlord about the condition of their property and, in response, instead of making the repair their landlord serves them with an eviction notice. Retaliatory eviction is an unacceptable practice and no tenant should fear becoming homeless because they have asked for a necessary repair.

Changes where the section 21 notice would not be valid if:

  • The notice was served after the tenant complained in writing to their landlord about repairs
    • The landlord didn’t deal with the issues
    • The tenant reported them to the council
    • Notice was given to the tenant within 6 months of the council given you an improvement notice or a notice that the council would do emergency works
  • Tenant not given a EPC certificate
  • No copy of Government guide “How to Rent” issued to tenant (unless client requested this via e mail)
  • The new prescribed s21 form was not used:

“The landlord must use a prescribed form for section 21 notices. They may also use this form for existing tenancies. This form (No. 6A) is available on The National Archives website or follow the link on Advisernet article 11.5.6.4 (para 111)

Section 21 notice would also not be valid if:

  • Tenant has not been given a gas safety certificate
  • Landlords didn’t install smoke alarms on every floor of the property, and test them at the start of every tenancy. They would also need to install carbon monoxide detectors
  • The landlord had not protected a client’s tenancy deposit in a Government approved scheme (protected 30 days after they gave the deposit and /or the tenant was not provided with information on what scheme was used)

Useful Links

Renting a Safe Home: A guide for tenants

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/renting-a-safehome-a-guide-for-tenants

The full text of the Deregulation Act 2015 is available on the internet at the following link

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/20/contents/enacted

Tenancy Deposit Protection

www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection

Shelter’s helpline on 0808 800 4444

Monisha’s Volunteering Story

Monisha joined Ashfield Citizens Advice in June, and finished our adviser training programme a few weeks ago. Since that time, she has begun to interview and advise clients.

IMG_20160825_155854I decided to join Citizens Advice during the Summer break of my University course. The charity gave me a chance to work with the local community, to gain a range of people skills and help give advice to individuals with problems ranging from complex employment grievances to filling in a welfare benefits form.

I wanted to volunteer at Citizens Advice because it gave me chance to give back to the community, work with dedicated and hardworking people and learn a whole host of skills. Training at Ashfield Citizens Advice was initially nerve wrecking, however, I have benefited from an amazing support system which has helped my confidence. If there are times when I have felt anxious, colleagues have always been there to listen and reassure me. It’s helpful to know that many of my experienced colleagues were once in the position I am now, as a relatively new adviser.

When I started advising, I initially worried that I was going to do something wrong, however I found that it is difficult to go wrong when you have readily available support and experience to call upon.

The most rewarding part of the job, is seeing the gratitude clients display when you find the advice they need to solve the problems they are facing. Working at Citizens Advice has been one of the best experiences I have come across. Everyone I have met so far is friendly, fun and easy to talk to. I have gained a better understanding of how the system works in terms of laws, policies and procedures, and I have gained a satisfaction from helping others to overcome their problems.

If you would like to learn more, please complete this form and we’ll get in touch! You can also view more on the volunteering pages of our website here.