The four Citizen's Advice Bureau offices in the Western Isles dealt with client contacts totalling 4398 who raised 6532 issues during the last financial year.
The top enquiries of 36% related to Welfare Benefits and debt related problems were at 29%.
The remaining 35% of enquiries related to such matters as education, employment, housing, financial products and services, health and community care, immigration, legal, NHS concerns and complaints, relationships, tax, travel and utilities.
As in previous years many clients were given representation at Social Security and Employment Tribunals with excellent results in most of the cases.
Client financial gains, including the above figure amounted to almost £1m. As some clients do not inform the bureaux of the financial outcome of successful advice, the amount is in all likelihood bound to be greater.
“Our organisation is still kept very busy and that is one thing that is not affected as the years go by as the constant demand for advice never diminishes,"said WICAS Chairman, David Blaney as the organisation prepares for this year’s AGM on Tuesday August 14th.
"I am so grateful to our staff and volunteers for all the hard work they carry out year after year and the excellent service they give to those who contact us for advice on many different and varied issues that come their way.
"The past year saw changes to the structure of our organisation and I was so impressed by the smooth transition from the old to the new and much credit has to go to our Strategic and Operational Managers in the way they implemented such changes”.
WICAS is accredited to Scottish National Standards for Advice and Information and also meets he Membership requirements of Citizens Advice Scotland by passing the Quality of Advice and Organisational Audits.
WICAS is grateful to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for their continued core funding and other support they give towards this vital service to the people of the Western Isles.
As a result of extra fundraising from other sources, over the past year, WICAS manages additional specialised Projects such as courts services, welfare reform, health complaints and concerns and personal pension issues. This has enabled the organisation to employ extra staff, deal with extra enquiries and bring additional income into the Western Isles.
The four bureaux are continually looking for new volunteers who will be given training to carry out various duties in their offices, such as front line advice work and administrative tasks. The organisation would like to hear from anyone who can give some of their time to volunteer and they can contact either of the offices for more information. WICAS Training Officer, Norah MacPhee said” life is never dull in any of our offices and one look at the numerous and varied types of issues raised just goes to show how our volunteers can get hooked on their work as the variety of enquiries is endless”.
Volunteers Directors are also required to fill vacancies on the Board of Management and enquiries can be made to any of the offices for more information on what is involved in being a WICAS Director.
Details of the bureau are as follows:
Castlebay, Isle of Barra, HS9 5XD
Public Telephone Number 01871 810608
Pier Road, Tarbert, Isle of Harris, HS3 3BG
Public Telephone Number 01859 502431
41-43 Westview Terrace, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2HP
Public Telephone Number 01851 705727
45 Winfield Way, Balivanich, Benbecula, HS7 5LH
Public Telephone Number 01870 602421
The Annual General Meeting will be held in Lewis CAB, 41 – 43 Westview Terrace, Stornoway on Tuesday 14 August 2018 at 6.00 pm. All welcome to attend.