British Empire Medal awarded to Ellen Phillips
It is with great delight that we share the news that Ellen Phillips, our longest serving volunteer has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community in Lanarkshire.
Despite suffering from challenging health issues from an early age, Ellen Phillips has devoted her time to making a real difference in the life of the most vulnerable residents of Motherwell, Wishaw and Shotts for the past 28 years.
She has demonstrated outstanding determination and dedication by overcoming daily challenges to gift her time as: a volunteer advice worker, a lead tutor, an on the job trainer, and a member of our Board. Ellen is Chair of our People Standing Committee and is a lead tutor in every Adviser Training Programme. The warm welcome she extends to new volunteers goes a long way to ensuring that the CAB is a place they feel valued and want to be part of. Just this week, one volunteer referred to her as ‘The jewel in CAB’s crown.’
During her 28 years she has gifted a remarkable 25,000 hours to our CAB. Ellen has been responsible for mentoring and training 780 volunteers, who in turn donated 500,000 hours of their free time to make a real difference to our community.
1993 – Supported the launch of an innovative outreach service taking the CAB service to the heart of the community and making advice more accessible in deprived areas.
1996 – Helped to establish the Training & Development Unit to support continuous development of our people
1998 – Became one of the first SVQ Advisers and Assessors in her field.
2003 – Successfully chaired a “Save the Wishaw CAB office’’ Committee, when the office was under threat of closure.
2004 – Chosen as a “worthy volunteer” by Jack McConnell MSP (The then First Minister) to represent his constituency at the opening of the Scottish Parliament building. She was presented to the Queen at the ceremony
2006 – While housebound and recovering from Guillame Barre Syndrome which caused her almost total paralysis, she became the first CAB volunteer email advice home worker in Scotland
2014 – She was recognised by Motherwell & Wishaw Rotary International Club as its “Citizen of the year”.
Ellen is also passionate about tackling social injustice and remains at the fore front of influencing local and national legislation, submitting more than 7,000 Social Policy issues based on empirical evidence stemming from advice cases. She has been a truly inspirational Volunteer Adviser, Mentor, Tutor and Director who has devoted more than a quarter of a century to meeting the needs of the community of Motherwell, Wishaw and Shotts.
It has been a great honour to work with such a notable person, for whom all volunteers, staff and external stakeholders have greatest respect and admiration. Ellen is quite simply an extraordinary woman.
We cannot thank Ellen enough for her immeasurable contribution to the bureau and the support she has given staff and volunteers over the years. Quite simply, the bureau would not have the same standard of excellent advisers and be able to support the most vulnerable members of our community, without Ellen’s dedication and this award is recognition of that commitment.
Scams Awareness Month 2016
The campaign will launch for the 4th time on the 1st July 2016. Last year 38 CAB offices took part by campaigning on social media or displaying posters. Many held events to talk about scams face to face with local people. Many worked in partnership with local agencies making scams a priority and protecting those most at risk.
Scams aren’t a minor inconvenience: they cause distress and misery, and can ruin lives. If you decide to take part in this year’s campaign, you’re helping to give people the awareness that will help them protect themselves and those in their families and communities who are less able to spot scams. Scams Awareness Month 2016 aims to create a confident community of consumers; people who get timely advice from trusted sources, people who report scams and share their experiences so that others can benefit
PRESS RELEASE – Motherwell & Wishaw Citizens Advice Bureau
LOCAL CAB FACES CLOSURE – DESPITE BEING BUSIER THAN EVER
Motherwell & Wishaw Citizens Advice Bureau is facing a massive cut to its funding at a time when it has never been busier and is delivering crucial advice to more local people than ever before.
The CAB has today learned that the council plan to reduce it’s funding by a staggering 50%, leaving the future of the service in jeopardy.
Motherwell & Wishaw CAB consistently perform to the highest standards, achieving exceptional results for some of the most vulnerable members of our community year after year. Over the last year our expert advice put a total of £5.5 million back into the pockets of local people. We supported a total of 11,000 local people deal with 30,000 complex issues across a breadth of advice including; benefits, debt, housing, employment, consumer, energy, immigration, tax, family and pensions. Our work is more crucial than ever before, however North Lanarkshire Council is planning to slash the CAB’s funds.
Motherwell & Wishaw CAB covers a large geographic area, supporting 72,000 local residents. In order to meet the needs of the community we operate two full time offices both in Mother well & Wishaw. This disproportionate cut to our funding may well lead to the closure of Wishaw CAB which has supported the community for more than 20 years. Last year, Wishaw CAB dealt with 5,000 clients and 15,000 issues. Where will these vulnerable people go for advice if we need to close our doors to them? Closure of the Wishaw Office would have a devastating impact on the local community.
NLC are also planning to remove our funding to provide independent money advice for our clients. Motherwell & Wishaw CAB renegotiated £3million worth of debt, putting money back into the pockets of local people. Last year North Lanarkshire Citizens Advice Bureaux collectively dealt with nearly 1500 debt cases – who will support these clients if the Council no longer fund us to do so? In comparison NLC Money Advice team dealt with 874 cases. People will no longer have any choice of provider when it comes to debt advice and will have to approach the Council for support.
NLC suggest that there is a duplication of services – we strongly dispute this statement. CAB provides a holistic, one stop service where clients can be advised on all aspects of their situation, without having to engage with multiple services. We are the most trusted independent advice agency and clients are happy to entrust us with improving their circumstances. Clients have the right to choice. We are proactive in trying to ensure that everyone who needs it, can access information and advice. Last year we carried out 836 home visits to the most vulnerable, ensuring that these people could access advice services. Rather than duplicating services, we address gaps in service provision. In direct response to client feedback, we have been able to secure funding and design new innovative projects that better support specific needs and client groups, such as Armed Services Advice Project supporting veterans and Advice In Mind supporting people impacted by poor mental health. Direct feedback from NLC suggests that as we are a proactive CAB delivering a number of specialist projects, we no longer have the same need for core funding, this simply isn’t true.
Without the core funding, we will not be able to secure additional funding to enhance and add value to the current service provision and support.
For every £1 of funding provided by the council, Motherwell & Wishaw CAB has delivered unrivalled increase in resident income of £62.58 and generated an additional £7 of funding which creates new projects and employment opportunities in the area. We also provide unrivalled cost per client. We feel that cutting the CAB funding would not only be costly in social terms but would also be a false economy, given the savings that can be made from good advice. ACCESS TO GOOD ADVICE SAVES MONEY FOR CLIENTS, THE COUNCIL AND THE PUBLIC PURSE.
We understand that the Council has significant budget challenges and difficult decisions need to be made, however, we believe that the CAB service delivers a Best Value service and provides excellent value for the public purse. A £1 given to the CAB is a £1 well invested in the community, both for now and in the future.
We consider the human impact on people we help to be even more important and know that our service is crucial in the community. We remain dedicated to delivering this service and supporting people who find themselves in very difficult situations and often have nowhere else to turn. We have worked in partnership with North Lanarkshire Council for many years in order to provide these crucial services for our community and hope to be able to do so for many years to come.
The only way to stop these cuts and the potential decimation of the CAB service is to contact your local Councillor and express your concerns. Please show support for your local CAB so that the next time you need us, we are still here to support you.
For more information or photos, please contact Kinga Kosakowska CAB Manager on 01698265349
Comments from the three main political parties.
Marion Fellows MP “I am extremely concerned at a potential 50% cut in core funding to Motherwell & Wishaw Citizens Advice Bureau with removal of their debt advice service. In addition further cuts could see the closure of Wishaw CAB. This free, independent and impartial advice is vital to help the most vulnerable members of our community who will yet again be hit the hardest.”
MSP Graham Simpson “The CAB offers a vital service to the people of Motherwell, Wishaw & Shotts. Councillors should not see it as some luxury add-on but rather a core service. Through the advice given, the CAB probably saves the council money in staff time and resources. I urge councillors to back it.’
MSP Richard Leonard “There is no doubt that North Lanarkshire Council’s Budget has been cut by the Scottish Government, but the role of this Citizens Advice Bureau in social security advice alone is invaluable in the fight for justice, for greater equality and for local economic development. That’s why we should be supporting it.”
Jacqui was a full time nurse and also a carer for her disabled husband, who is an ex-serviceman, having served in the Royal Signals for seven and a half years. Due to the pressure she was under she developed her own health issues, fibromyalgia, depression and was struggling to function with poor concentration.
When her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer, Jacqui finally had to give up work to care for him. Having worked all of her life, Jacquie did not know where to turn for help. She approached a number of agencies who just referred her to sources of online support.
Jacqui did not have the skills or motivation to work through the mine field of information online and was desperately struggling to get support to get her benefits in place. Someone told her about the CAB service and since then she hasn’t looked back. The CAB adviser helped her get the benefits in place that both she and her husband were entitled to, allowing them to pay their bills and keep a roof over their head. Jacqui says that not only did the CAB adviser help her financially but had a hugely positive impact on her mental health, well-being and confidence. In fact, Jacqui was then able to go on and challenge the Local Authority to rehouse her and her husband in accommodation that was better for their physical health needs.
Jacqui has gone from being agoraphobic , desperately struggling to function and care for her very sick husband, to now going out again, supporting her family and has even joined a local sewing club.
She says that without the support from CAB there is no way she could have fought her way through the benefits system or coped with the mountain of paperwork and numerous phone calls. She believes that she would have gone further downhill and has no idea where she or her husband would have ended up. ‘Please do not let this vital service be lost. There is no other agency that offers the help and support the CAB does.’
BEWARE: There is a company claiming to be from the CAB and offering help with debt advice. They are cold calling clients from the following number: 07502281538.
Please do not supply them with any of your details. It is a scam.
Under no circumstances Motherwell & Wishaw CAB would ever cold call you to offer you advice.
All the clients are welcome to seek advice from us using our drop in sessions or calling the bureau directly.
This company was reported to NLC Trading Standards and Action Fraud.
MP DEMANDS CAB FUNDING IS PROTECTED
Motherwell and Wishaw MP Marion Fellows believes the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) must be protected from a potential cut in its funding.
With Scotland’s budget facing a five per cent cut over the next five years, North Lanarkshire Council is implementing around £45m of savings over the next two years.
The council is considering a review of posts within advisory services together with external grant funding to save £782,000, which could affect CAB which receives £500,000 a year.
However, Mrs Fellows says the work CAB does is too important to be threatened.
She said: “It is absolutely necessary the Citizens’ Advice Bureau is well funded so that it may continue to provide its invaluable services to local people.
“CAB has assisted a number of my constituents by offering services and guidance on a range of topics, I especially commend them on the work they do helping those suffering at the hands of the Tories’ welfare sanction regime and discriminatory immigration policy.
Council leader Jim McCabe said the council has tried to protect the services which provide support to the most vulnerable people.
“If he really means what he says it would be contradictory to cut the CAB’s funding as 95 per cent of people who use its services are vulnerable individuals.”
LOCAL ADVICE TEAM HELPS LANARKSHIRE HEROES IN LAST 5 YEARS
A team of charity workers is transforming the lives of armed service heroes across Scotland.
The Armed Service Advice Project (ASAP) has just celebrated its fifth anniversary. Here in Lanarkshire in the five years that the local arm has been running, it has helped deliver advice to military families and has won them a total of £777,727 in things like compensation, benefits and financial support. (The project’s equivalent national figure is £5 million).
The ASAP is a partnership between the Citizens Advice Service and a group of military charities, led by Poppyscotland. A report on the five-year history of the project across Scotland shows that ASAP delivers £3.54 for every £1 of investment..
The Lanarkshire Region ASAP is managed by Kinga Kosakowska, Executive Manager, Motherwell & Wishaw Citizens Advice Bureau, who says:
“ASAP began five years ago as a new Scotland-wide initiative. The CAB service was aware that we were asked for advice by military personnel and veterans, and we wanted to make sure that we could give them the best possible support – which meant linking up with the military charities who can give that extra expertise and help. That’s what the project does: serving personnel, former members and their families can come to the CAB and ask for ASAP, and by seeking our advice we can help them to work with all the organizations they need to resolve their problems.
“At Scotland-wide level we have done terrific work over these five years, helping 7,342 people with more than 32,000 issues, and putting £5m back in their pockets. Here in Lanarkshire there are nine main CAB offices working together on the ASAP project and we are all very proud of our contribution to that total.
But, we were especially pleased to learn from a recent survey of our ASAP clients that 82% reported they had achieved ‘peace of mind’ as an outcome of the help we provided …. and that is priceless……
“The sort of issues the armed forces community bring to us are, in general, the kind of issues that any other people bring – e.g. low income, problems with an employer or the benefit system, or housing issues etc. But very often the problem is made worse because the client has health problems from their time in service. So ASAP is about listening sympathetically and with sensitivity, and then offering the most beneficial support available.
“Our message to any veteran; or serving member or their dependants in Lanarkshire who need our help is to contact us today and let us help you. Like all services delivered by the CAB, our advice is free, independent and confidential. You can get in touch by contacting your local CAB, or by calling the ASAP helpline on 0808 800 1007 or visiting www.adviceasap.org.uk”
Ian McGregor, Chief Executive of Poppyscotland, says:
“ASAP is a success story for Poppyscotland; it is going a long way to tackling the problems faced by the most vulnerable members of the Armed Forces community and excellent results are being achieved. However, there is still more to be done.
“Without the generosity of the public who donate to the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal it would be impossible for us to provide this life-changing service. I hope that the public continues to support us again this year so that we can do even more to improve the wellbeing of those in the Armed Forces community and stop them from being disadvantaged.”
Quote from ASAP client:
“An invaluable service which has successfully brought about improved living conditions and peace of mind, the service is extremely helpful and caring when it seems on-one else does. Thanks to everyone who has helped put into place information and advice to bring about a better quality of life for me.”
In the photograph is the ASAP Lanarkshire team; Audrey and Janette. They can be contacted on 01698 259305 daily 9am-1pm.
HELP WINTER-PROOF ENERGY BILLS
Motherwell & Wishaw CAB is calling on people in Motherwell, Wishaw and Shotts to swot up on switching energy supplier and get themselves ready for winter and increasing fuel bills.
The local charity is part of Big Energy Saving Week – a joint campaign with Energy Saving Trust, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice. Motherwell & Wishaw CAB is encouraging people to visit BeAnEnergyShopper.com to find out how much they could save by switching energy suppliers. As part of the campaign, Energy Specialists from Motherwell & Wishaw CAB will be at ASDA Motherwell, on Tuesday 27th & Thursday 29th October from 10am – 5pm and New College Lanarkshire Motherwell Campus 12-3pm on Tuesday 27th Oct, providing information and advice on a whole range of energy related issues.
Kinga Kosakowska, Executive Manager at Motherwell & Wishaw CAB said:
“In preparation for winter, we are urging people to come forward and seek specialist information and advice on energy issues. Access to good advice can make a huge difference and ensure you are better prepared to deal with rising fuel bills. Come along and speak to one of our advisers who can advise you on grants, switching supplier, reducing energy usage and much more ”
Former General Manager of Motherwell & Wishaw CAB, Audrey Cuthbertson awarded an MBE
The Board of Directors, all the staff and current Executive Manager of Motherwell and Wishaw CAB are really proud of their former General Manager and current Armed Services Advice Project Regional Support Officer, Audrey Cuthbertson, who was recently honoured by the Queen in recognition of her services to the community.
The investiture was carried out on the 27th October by the Duke of Cambridge, HRH Prince William. Audrey explained, “the whole experience is quite surreal, however, when Prince William presented me with the award, our conversation felt very natural and relaxed, and I was able to tell him a bit about the CABs Armed Services Advice Project”.
Cllr Thomas Lunny, the Chair of Motherwell & Wishaw CAB said: It is a great recognition of her outstanding work to improving the quality of life of residents of Motherwell, Wishaw and Shotts. Audrey went well beyond her call of duty to make a real difference in the community. It is a fantastic honour for her and her family and we are absolutely delighted for her. ’
Audrey Cuthbertson took up the post as a manager of Motherwell Citizens Advice Bureau in 1990 in the most difficult, troublesome year and she showed a great level of commitment and determination to restructure the organisation to deliver the desired outcomes
Current Executive Manager, Kinga Kosakowska said: ‘All the staff members are thrilled that her charismatic leadership was recognised. She demonstrated sheer passion to guide the bureau through major changes and turbulences. Audrey strived to provide a service of excellence to the most vulnerable and deprived in the community. During her 24 years of inspirational management the bureau assisted local community with more than half a million issues, improved client financial position by £22 mln by ensuring the rightful benefit entitlement was in place.
She left the bureau in 2014, volunteered at SSAFA and subsequently returned to the bureau as an Armed Services Advice Project Regional Support Worker in 2015 to help the members of the Armed Forces Community in Lanarkshire area. .
Audrey Cuthbertson a newly awarded MBE said : ‘ It was a shock; a jaw-dropping emotional moment when I opened the envelope informing me that I was to be awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2015.
It is a tremendous honour and I am delighted to get the recognition, although it is really a tribute to the work and successes of the volunteers, staff and Trustees of Motherwell & Wishaw Citizens Advice Bureau.
It was always a privilege, and it was a pleasure, to manage the bureau during my 24 years of service; a career which enabled me to work with people whose commitment and dedication makes a real difference for the better to the lives of fellow community members.
I am confident that this award will help to raise the profile of the Bureau. It is important that people know that CAB is a service for the community, by the community, in the community and that there are scores of unsung heroes working hard to ensure that everyone has a voice’
The Ben Nevis Climb for Charity – M&W CAB
A team of staff and volunteers from Motherwell & Wishaw CAB climbed Ben Lomond last Saturday 19th September. We are really proud of Ann, Bobbie, Kinga, Jim, Ying, Alana, Mark, Ewan and Ian who all made it to the top. They displayed great team spirit and demonstrated an amazing level of determination.
Next year they plan to tackle Ben Nevis and are keen to join together with other bureaux members to raise money while embracing the challenge of climbing the highest mountain in the UK.
CHANGE TO OPENING HOURS – MOTHERWELL OFFICE
In light of the operational pressures placed on the service, Motherwell CAB has revised its opening times.
- From 16th February 2015 Motherwell office will close for lunch between 1.00pm and 1.30pm.
- From 23rd February 2015 the Motherwell office will open to members of the public from 9.30am
Monday, Thursday & Friday
9.30am -1.00pm Morning Session
1.00pm -1.30pm Closed for Lunch
1.30pm – 4.00pm Afternoon Session
9.30am -1.00pm Morning Session
1.00pm -1.30pm Closed for Lunch
1.30pm – 7.00pm Afternoon & Evening Session
Neil McNee and Jim Welsh were presented with a Generalist Adviser Certificate of Competence on the 19th of December 2014.
Legal Advice qualifications – Get recognition for the work you do
Motherwell & Wishaw Citizens Advice Bureau is planning to introduce new Legal Advice vocational qualifications. The bureau is seeking the opinions of advice and information workers from all Scottish CAB’s, to learn if the Legal Advice vocational qualifications are something that they feel would be useful and valuable in their chosen profession. Brief information about the qualifications that we would like to introduce can be found in the attached leaflet together with a link to the survey.
To complete the questionnaire, please click the survey URL below: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1E5ei_oNX1p2e9JFVUAKHuDkjWw19L3ibc2bV3ng4cEM/viewform?usp=send_form
Motherwell and Wishaw Citizens Advice Bureau will be closed all day on Wednesday 12th of November 2014 for Bureau’s volunteer and staff’s Annual Learning Day.
Well done to our team of volunteers and paid staff who have raised £200 for Children 1st Charity by climbing up Tinto Hill. They are looking forward to the next challenge.
FREE, New services for local housing associations (Forgewood, Abronhill, Garrion, Wishaw & Lanarkshire).
AFTAR Energy advice service
Free, Confidential and Impartial Advice on energy bills and usage. Also help with billing issues, Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payment, Cold Weather Payment
Call Ian on 07856231652 or Ross 01698 376767 or 265349
FREE Computer Learning Now Available
The FREE service will offer residents access to basic and essential computer skills.
The focus will be on Computer Learning for ALL AGES and ALL LEVELS. Residents can learn computers step by step and go at their own pace.
- Computer basics
- Browse the internet
- CV or Job searching skills
- Help with online benefit forms (individual session)
- Individual computer learning/one to one sessions also available
New computer learning sessions now at
Wishaw South Parish Church Tuesday & Wednesday @ 10-12.30
Lanarkshire Housing association office (191 Brandon Street) Tuesdays 1.30-4.00
Garrion Centrepoint Thursday 10-12.30
For more info or book a place! Call Ross 01698 376767 or 265349 Or John on 7948702231
*FREE TO ALL RESIDENTS*
The bureau is running IT Workshops from South Wishaw Parish Church on Mondays and Thursdays between 1pm and 4pm. If you are interested, please phone us on 01698 265 349 or pop in to see us.
Here are the latest news stories and press releases issued by Citizens Advice Scotland, the umbrella organisation for all Scottish citizens advice bureaux.
- CAS welcomes Young Carer grant 20 Sep 2017
- New campaign to fight Nuisance Calls 11 Sep 2017
- CAS responds to Scottish government's legislative programme 5 Sep 2017
- Will Relief Scotland during September 1 Sep 2017
- Scotland's third sector unites to call for Universal Credit roll out to be halted 30 Aug 2017
- CAS backs SCVO on digital exclusion 22 Aug 2017
- CAS welcomes Supreme Court ruling on Employment Tribunals 26 Jul 2017
- Water Direct - Lunchtime webinar for local authorities & debt advice organisations 19 Jul 2017
- In the news this week... 11 July - 17 July 18 Jul 2017
- Scams Awareness Month - scams which target people over 70 5 Jul 2017
For more news and updates, visit the Citizens Advice Scotland website.