Almost 4,500 people approached Western Isles CABx for assistance in their last financial year, the organisation's AGM will be told.
“At a time when costs are increasing all around us and with high levels of fuel costs and cuts to welfare benefits for many in our community due to the changes brought about by welfare reform, the valuable service provided by the staff and volunteers in our organisation is all the more important in helping clients maximise their income and find strategies to cope with the increased costs of day-to-day living” said WICAS Chairman, David Blaney as the organisation prepares for this year’s AGM.
The Annual General Meeting will be held in The Shed, 11 Francis Street, Stornoway on Wednesday 17 August 2016 at 6.00 pm. All welcome to attend.
During the year the four offices in the Western Isles dealt with client contacts totalling 4,480 who raised 7,929 issues. The top enquiries, amounting to 34% of the total, related to Welfare Benefits while debt-related problems made up 29% of cases as staff dealt with new debts for the year totalling over £1m. The remaining 37% of enquiries related to such matters as employment, housing, legal, NHS issues, Council Tax and Income Tax to name but a few.
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 amounted to over £705,000. 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.
WICAS is accredited to Scottish National Standards for Advice and Information and also meets the membership requirements of Citizens Advice Scotland by passing the Quality of Advice and Organisational Audits.
WICAS is grateful to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for the continued core funding of the vital service to the people of the Western Isles.
As a result of extra fundraising from other sources, WICAS can run additional specialised projects covering such areas as legal, welfare reform, health complaints and concerns and personal pension issues. This enables the organisation to employ extra staff, deal with extra enquiries and bring additional income into our islands.
The four bureaux are continually looking for new volunteers who will be given training to carry out various duties in their offices and if anyone can give some of their time 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.
Details of the bureau are as follows:
BARRA CAB Castlebay, Isle of Barra, HS9 5XD Public Telephone Number 01871 810608
HARRIS CAB Pier Road, Tarbert, Isle of Harris, HS3 3BG Public Telephone Number 01859 502431
LEWIS CAB 41-43 Westview Terrace, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS1 2HP Public Telephone Number 01851 705727
UIST CAB 45 Winfield Way, Balivanich, Benbecula, HS7 5LH Public Telephone Number 01870 602421