A FREE advice agency with an increasing demand for services is seeking additional volunteers to help spread the load.
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has been helping the public in Rossendale for 74 years and the number of inquiries has increased by a third in the last year with 40 per cent of calls about changes in welfare benefits.
Ahead of National Volunteering Week in June, the bureau is seeking 12 additional volunteers to train for a variety of roles.
Alan Lush decided to volunteer 18 months ago when he retired from the paper industry. He had spent his last six working years in Thailand.
“I wanted a challenge and I wanted to do something entirely different to what I had done before,” he said.
“When I pick up the phone I do not know why the person is ringing or why they want assistance.
“The training prepares you for the call and you also have the support of everyone in the office.
“For me, the best part about volunteering is knowing that you are helping someone. You are making a difference.”
He was able to help a client make a free change to her will – in return she sent £20 to the CAB and a thank you.
The Bureau relocated to Stubbylee Hall, Bacup, last September and employs four full-time staff, eight part-time and 30 volunteers.
A series of awareness stands will be held in local supermarkets and at Bacup and Stacksteads Carnival.
Manager Rachel Whippy said: “Volunteering for the CAB is a great way to meet new people, gain new skills and build on skills for employment.
“The advice we offer is free, confidential and impartial and we help people with a range of issues such as debt, welfare benefits, relationships, employment, housing and tax issues.”
English graduate Catherine Landale, 25, hopes to become a solicitor and has been volunteering at the CAB for three years.
“I helped someone get attendance allowance and that changed their life,” said Catherine.
“It is rewarding and I enjoy it. I work Tuesdays and Fridays and carry out emergency appointments when necessary.”
The bureau receives money nationally from the Big Lottery and Comic Relief among others and local funding includes grants from Rossendale Council and Newground Together.
Volunteer co-ordinator Matt Wiseman said: “Whatever your skills we will find the role that suits and you don’t need experience to volunteer as full training is given.”
To inquire about volunteering contact Matt on 01706 252015, weekdays 9am-5pm.
For help and advice call 0844 499 4121, from a landline, or 0300 456 2552, from a mobile, Monday-Thursday 9.30am to 12.30pm, or visit www.rossendalecab.org.uk for information and access to a web form.