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Page updated - 03 September 2011

 

Sudbury & District Citizens Advice Bureau 

Our offices at Belle Vue, Newton Road in Sudbury have been our location for nearly 20 years, and we are a short time away from signing another two year lease with Babergh District Council to remain. Over the last two years we have taken on additional rooms at Belle Vue, and now have a dedicated Reception area, together with an additional three interview rooms, giving bureau clients six interview rooms in total.

 

As the number of clients seeking advice and assistance from the bureau grows, we have endeavoured to recruit additional volunteers. This has enabled the initiation of some specialised roles including recruitment coordinator, business development coordinator and health and safety coordinator, which all support the aims of the bureau, without being a traditional client facing role.

 

The introduction of Gateway Assessments for clients has been long awaited. This now means when volunteer numbers allow, clients are offered a short interview with a trained assessor, who will ensure that information is readily available to those who are able to use it to resolve their own problems; undertakes a time limited assessment of the presenting problems in order that the next steps that need to be taken can be determined; and provides further advice or undertakes casework by appointment with a CAB adviser or by referral to another agency.

 

The bureau also has a dedicated service for the completion of Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance application forms, Blue Badge Car Parking Permits and this has now been extended to include Employment and Support Allowance form completion, as well as Bankruptcy applications. We have trained our new volunteers to be able to complete the forms, and answer the questions that clients may ask. The creation of the roles not only enables clients to have a dedicated service; it has also allowed us to train volunteers to be able to see clients more quickly than if they had trained as a general adviser. This also allows general advisers to refer clients to the new service, which enables more clients to be seen overall.

 

As well as helping clients with their enquiries, we also collect evidence of clients' problems and use this to campaign for changes in national and local policies and services. We have a key role in speaking up for clients, raising issues brought into bureaux, contributing to public debate and informing legislation. Our policy/campaign work covers a huge range of issues including consumer, debt, housing, benefits, immigration, employment, legal matters and health. We work with policymakers, regulators, MPs, Assembly Members and service providers.

 

Feedback from our recent client survey has again been very positive – clients have benefited from our advice, would recommend us to others, and would use us again if they had a problem that they wanted help with. This feedback is important to the bureau as it gives us an indication that we are starting to meet the needs of the local community. I use the word ‘starting’ because I’m all too aware that we have to turn clients away on a daily basis, as we haven’t large enough premises yet until the building work is completed to see all the clients that would like to receive our help, and we need more trained advisers to see more clients. Perhaps if you have a spare day a week you might like to learn more about volunteering for the bureau?

 

I can be contacted on (01787) 378204, or by e-mail to bureau@sudburycab.cabnet.org.uk and I will send you an information pack that will tell you more about volunteering for CAB where you’ll be playing an active part in improving the lives of millions of people and influencing the development of national and local policies and services.

 

On a very local level, if you need advice, our website is www.sudburycab.org.uk and our client help-line phone number is (01787) 374671.

 

Click this CAB Advice hyperlink to read advice previously published the Great Cornard newsletter Cornard News.

 

Ann Furlonger (Mrs) – Bureau Manager

Sudbury & District Citizens Advice Bureau

Belle Vue, Newton Road, Sudbury, Suffolk. CO10 2RG

 

Charity No. 1123466.  Company Reg. No. 6051096

 

August 2011