Advice bureau appeals for volunteers to meet ‘unprecedented’ demand

Joe Michna of Citizens Advice Hartlepool
Joe Michna of Citizens Advice Hartlepool

Hartlepool’s Citizen Advice service is appealing for volunteers and donations as it struggles to cope with ‘unprecedented’ workload.

Managers say its services have never been in greater demand and gets 50 requests for help a day.

The roll out of Universal Credit benefit has had a big impact on the organisation, based in Park Road, and need is outstripping resources.

Citizens Advice Hartlepool manager Joe Michna said they are witnessing their busiest period in 30 years that he has been with the organisation.

He said: “The demand for our services is outstripping our resources and I apologise to those people who have difficulty in contacting us, particularly by telephone.

“The demand for our services from local residents is simply unprecedented and we are struggling to cope with this demand.

“That is why we need more volunteer staff to help us cope with this demand.

“In terms of financial resources we are a small organisation but on a typical day we are receiving requests for advice and assistance from 50 local residents and some of these residents have very complicated and complex issues they want advice on. “More trained volunteers would help us meet this unprecedented demand.”

The service provides advice and help with a range of legal issues including personal debt, welfare benefits, employment law and rights consumer disputes, housing and homelessness, energy and fuel supplies, taxes and family matters.

During 2017-2018, Citizens Advice Hartlepool helped and advised over 5,000 local people and their families, and carried out almost 19,000 face-to-face interviews.

It is looking for volunteers who are reliable and who want to learn and develop.

The organisation offers full training and during advice sessions, which are held four days a week with the public, volunteers are supported and supervised.

It is also asking people to consider making a financial donation to support the service.

Mr Michna added: “Like any other business in order to keep providing our services we have bills to pay.”

Drop in sessions take place between 9.30am and 3pm on

Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Anybody interested in volunteering should contact Recruitment and Training Officer Janet Noble by email at tutor@hartlepool.cabnet.org.uk

And Anyone wishing to making a financial donation can contact Joe Michna at manager@hartlepool.cabnet.org.uk