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News stories and features from Guildford Advice Services’ six core partners and its network organisations

Citizens Advice Guildford Seeking New Trustees

Citizens Advice Guildford is looking to add up to four new trustees to its board.

Its trustees play an important role in ensuring it fulfils its objectives, operates within its means and complies both with Citizens Advice membership requirements and the law. Day-to-day running of the bureau is delegated to the chief officer. The role of trustee may be summarised as:

  • Setting overall direction and supporting the development of the bureau.
  • Ensuring the bureau meets the needs of the local community and membership standards.
  • Employing staff.
  • Controlling finances.
  • Earning and retaining respect of important and influential people and organisations in the community including funding bodies.
  • Ensuring the bureau complies with relevant laws including in relation to charities law, company law, employment law, health and safety, safeguarding and data protection.

All applicants must have:

  • Good communication and inter-personal skills.
  • Independent thinking skills.
  • Strategic vision.
  • Empathy and commitment to the aims and policies of Citizens Advice Guildford.

Candidates with skills in one or more of the following areas are particularly being sought:

  • General commercial experience.
  • Fundraising (negotiating grants/finding donors/fundraising and events).
  • Local Citizens Advice background (especially with advisor training).
  • Information technology, digital skills, research and campaigning, media/public relations, website design, communications, health and safety.

There are six trustee board meetings per annum, usually in the evening and around two hours in length plus preparation time for those meetings. The role is unpaid although reasonable expenses will be reimbursed.

The aim is expand the existing board with particular focus on improving skills and diversity across it. Applications will be welcome from candidates from all backgrounds regardless of age, disability, gender, religion, beliefs, ethnicity, marital status or sexual orientation. Its aim is to properly reflect the community that it represents. Applications from women and from black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates would be encouraged as these groups are currently under represented on the board.

Those interested are asked to send an email to john.evans@guildfordcab.org.uk who will reply with further details and an application form.

Citizens Advice Guildford is a medium-sized bureau with around 12 staff and 75 volunteers. During 2016-17 it assisted more than 4,300 clients, dealt with more than 11,000 issues and gained £2.7 million for our clients.

Citizens Advice aims to provide the advice people need for the problems they face and improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives. It provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. It campaigns for policy changes both locally and nationally. It values diversity, promote equality and challenge discrimination.

Putting Focus On Prosecuting Loan Sharks And The Help Available For People In Debt

The ways in which loan sharks (illegal money lenders) are being brought to justice and help that is available for people in debt was the focus of a lunchtime event on Wednesday (February 8).

Pictured from left: Community warden Garry Jones, CAP volunteer Edna Yarham, CAP debt coach Suzanne Hoslett, Catherine Illingworth from Boom! Credit Union, community warden Richard Musgove, and behind them the Stop Loan Sharks mascot outfit worn by community warden Lesley Telford.

Hosted by Guildford Borough Council’s community wardens, it was held at the Surrey Sports Park and attended by organisations and individuals who undertake community work, plus councillors and council staff.

A liaise officer from Trading Standard’s national Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) for London and South East spoke about loan sharks, the tactics they use to entice people to go to them and the way they extort money from people.

Attendees at the event were told that loan sharks are everywhere in the UK, and there is a great need to raise awareness of this type of crime.

The message from the IMLT is: “Don’t get in with a loan shark…. it will cost you an arm and a leg.”

It asks: “Have you or anyone you know:

  • Been offered a cash loan without paperwork?
  • Been threatened when you couldn’t pay?
  • Had your benefit or bank card taken from you?
  • Had a loan which keeps growing even though you are making payments?

“If you have answered yes to the above you may have been bitten by a loan shark.”

Tony Quigley, head of service for the National Illegal Money Lending Team said, on behalf of the officer at the event: “We will continue to work to combat loan sharks. They can cause untold misery to the most disadvantaged in our communities. We would urge anyone with information about loan sharking or victims of loan sharks to contact the team on 0300 555 222.”

Click here to find more details on line about how to report someone who you believe is a loan shark and information about the IMLT.

The newly established Boom! Credit Union was represented at the event by Catherine Illingworth. She said that Boom! is working hard to promote its services of affordable loans and savings plans that are aimed at appealing to

  • People on low incomes.
  • People on benefits.
  • People with less than perfect credit ratings.
  • People who may be excluded from mainstream financial services.

She urged those at the event to help promote Boom! to people in their communities who otherwise may choose high-interest loans as a way of trying to get out of debt.

She said: “Boom! offers affordable loans for people who really need them and at the same time we give people the opportunity to save. And for some this is the first time in their lives that have been able to save money.”

Boom! Credit Union is a not-for-profit organisation and independent from any other financial institution. It is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Click here for our previous story about Boom! that contains more details of its services.

The third presentation at the event was by Suzanne Hoslett who is a debt coach for the Guildford area with the organisation Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

She said that CAP is church-based with 306 debt centres across the UK. It is administered from its centre in Bradford.

Anyone in debt can contact CAP for free by calling 0800 328 0006. They will then be put in contact with someone in their local area.

It sees every client in their home, offering both emotional support and a practical solution. CAP’s dedicated head-office staff negotiate with creditors on the client’s behalf and help to draw up a budget.

A team of befrienders ensures that each person paying off debts or going through an insolvency is supported often by others who have experienced the same situations themselves.

Personal debt is mostly commonly caused by low income, joblessness, relationship breakdown or illness in the family.

Guildford CAP Centre, is based at Westborough United Reformed Church and is supported by 17 other local church congregations.

CAP also has 169 job clubs across the UK and a new one is being opened at St John’s Church, Stoke Road, Guildford.

Suzanne Hoslett explained that it starts on February 27 and will be offering a free eight-week course on Monday mornings that will cover topics such as writing a CV, interview practice, guidance on voluntary work and practical help for those seeking employment.

She added that CAP’s job clubs have a higher than average success rate compared to other jobs clubs in helping people find work.

CAP also offers courses to help people manage their finances and these are run by several churches in Guildford.

Click here for our previous story about CAP in Guildford.

The staging of the event was funded by the Proceeds of Crime Act, via the IMLT.

Free Service To Help Out Of Work People Build Better Futures

Unemployed people living in Guildford can now benefit from a new project which offers free support to help them develop the ideas, confidence and skills they need to become self-employed or to create a social enterprise.

Inspiring Enterprise is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund and provides tailored support to unemployed people or those who are looking to return to work – such as lone parents, carers, people with disabilities and people in minority groups.

The free support includes:

  • ‘Is It For Me?’ sessions to explore what’s involved in becoming self-employed and to find out more about social enterprise
  • Workshops and training sessions on getting the basics right
  • Face-to-face meetings for advice and developing ideas
  • Mentoring to fine tune business plans
  • Networking opportunities
  • Meet the Boss sessions for inspiration.

Surrey Community Action, based in Burpham, is one of the organisations delivering the initiative in the west and north-west areas of Surrey and parts of Hampshire, together with WSX Enterprise, Action Hampshire, The University of Winchester and Fredericks Foundation.

It is hosting a free ‘Is It For Me?’ taster session on Thursday, February 23, in central Guildford. For further information or to book a place contact Marisa Shaw on 01483 447124 or via email inspiringenterprise@surreyca.org.uk. (Eligibility criteria apply).

Erica Sandford is Surrey Community Action’s Inspiring Enterprise Project Officer. She said: “You don’t need to have a business idea, or have even thought about social enterprise as an option yet, but if you think this is something you’d like to explore further then we would love to hear from you.”

She will be liaising with job clubs and social groups, that include unemployed people, as well as children’s centres, for example, that are in touch with those out of work. Part of her role is to engage with people in rural locations as well.

Erica is enthusiastic about the project and particularly social enterprises. She said these provide exciting opportunities and can inspire people to get into employment who may have difficulties finding jobs in the traditional way.

A social enterprise operates as a business but has a clear social or environmental purpose rather than trading for purely commercial reasons.

She said: “This way into employment may be ideal for people who have a passion about something, or see something missing in society or their community and want to address that. It may be something small, but can make a real difference.”

Erica pointed out that the scheme will not be pushing people into something they may not be ready for. All options will be discussed fully and an important part of the advice and support will focus on the sustainability of an idea or project.

She added: “We will be pleased to talk not only to individuals, but to groups of people who have come together with an idea.”

People who have retired, but who would like to set up a social enterprise that will benefit their community are also welcome to get in contact, but participants in the project must not be in any kind of employment.

For groups and organisations who work with unemployed people in the west Surrey area, Erica said they can refer individuals to her via Surrey Community Action or she is happy to meet up with them to discuss the project. Taster sessions for specific groups can also be arranged.

More information from Erica Sandford on 01483 447140, mobile 07472 599885. Email: ericas@surreyca.org.uk

The Inspiring Enterprise project has received up to £1.45 million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.

Tips To Save On Energy Bills From Citizens Advice Guildford

This week is Big Energy Saving Week (until November 5) and Citizens Advice Guildford has tips on how you can save on your energy bills.

energy-saving-week-flyerIt asks: are you worried by how much money you spend on gas? Is your home is draughty and do you turn the heating on even in summer?

The good news is that there are a few different ways you can use less energy, and also pay less for what you use.

Start by finding out if you can get a lower price for your gas. Find a copy of your latest bill so you can see how much you’re paying per unit.

Then use Citizens Advice’s online energy price comparison tool at https://energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk/ to check if a different supplier is offering a cheaper deal.

If you do find a better offer, call or email the new supplier and ask to move to the tariff you’ve identified. They’ll inform your old supplier and switch you over to their supply. This normally takes 17 days.

You should also look into improving your insulation, such as getting draught excluders or cavity wall insulation. Energy Champions at Citizens Advice can help explain what could work best for your home and the potential costs involved.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for financial assistance to help you meet the cost of your bills, as well as any improvement works to your home.

For further information and help visit Citizens Advice Guildford, 15-21 Haydon Place, GU1 4LL

Tel: 01483 576699. You can also call 0300 123 1234.

Click here for Citizens Advice Guildford’s website.

Making Good Connections So Elderly People Can Continue To Live Independently

The Diocese of Guildford’s Communities Engagement Team helps churches and their parishioners across Surrey in their work supporting their communities. This, the fifth in a series of stories, focuses on Nicola Bassani and her work as its community connector.

The Diocese of Guildford’s Communities Engagement Team helps churches and their parishioners across Surrey in their work supporting their communities. This, the fifth in a series of stories, focuses on Nicola Bassani and her work as its community connector.

Nicoila Bassani.

Nicola Bassani.

Finding out what services and support there is across the borough of Guildford for senior citizens and vulnerable adults is key to Nicola’s role.

She passes on these details to a wide range of groups and organisations linked to churches and in local communities.

To do this Nicola regularly visits groups and places where people gather to find out what their needs are. Although she does not offer one-to-one consultations as such, she is helping them to become more aware of what services they can access so they can continue to live independently and happily in their own communities.

Nicola said: “I recently attended a seated dance group and I have gone out with the borough council’s community meals team and dial-a-ride service to experience what they do.

“It has been useful for me to understand their roles so I can advise and pass on details of what they offer. 

“I also work to help prevent duplication of services, so there is a lot of signposting in the role that aims to connect and inform people of things that they will find useful and beneficial.”

Before Nicola took up her post she helped with the care of her grandparents who lived in Horsley. She said: “We did not know what kind of help was available to them in a semi-rural area, how do you know these sort of things exist? Where do you look? I was a young person with a connection to the internet but I didn’t know where to start.”

Nicola has produced a handy leaflet that is available in some local GP surgeries that gives details of lots of services for elder people offered by organisations and local authorities. It includes where to go for coffee mornings, lunch clubs, car transport schemes, household help, and more.

She also works with Guildford Advice Services (GAS), an umbrella group that supports organisations operating in the borough of Guildford who offer information and advice. The Diocese of Guildford is a member of this. Nicola said: “I help promote what the member groups offer and how people can access a range of support services such as debt counselling, help with mental health problems, social isolation, and also specialist help for young adults.”

She also meets and works regularly with Guildford Borough Council’s adult social care team and community matrons across the borough who visit people who perhaps have recently come home from a stay in hospital. Nicola passes on the latest details of services offered by others and giving guidance as and when applicable.

Click here for the Diocese of Guildford’s website and its community connectors page that is part of its Community Engagement Team.

Sparky’s Café Busy With Event To Mark World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day was marked at Sparky’s Café at Guildford’s Farnham Road Hospital on Monday (October 10), with a number of talks focusing on advice and support within the sector.

Pictured at Sparky's Café, from left: volunteers Beth and Kelly, manager Maris Ruiz, staff member Ellie and volunteer Emily.

Pictured at Sparky’s Café, from left: volunteers Beth and Kelly, manager Maria Ruiz, staff member Ellie and volunteer Emily.

It was also a chance for people to see the work of the café and its staff and volunteers, while sampling the food on offer.

Sparky's cafeThe event was hosted by the Richmond Fellowship, a charity that helps people with mental health problems live independently, find work and make the most of life.

Richmond FellowshipRichmond Fellowship operates Sparky’s Café at the specialist mental health hospital in Farnham Road for the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust. The café manager is Maria Ruiz and it is staffed by young people with mental health problems. While they volunteer at the café they learn catering, customer service, administration and food hygiene skills.

The café is next to the reception area at the hospital and is not only popular with staff, patients and clients, is open to the public too. Maria said that the busier the café becomes the more volunteers can be taken on and helped with their development. That is why the public are more than welcome to drop in for refreshments, with the opportunity to take part in special events that take place there regularly.

On Wednesday, October 19, from 10am to 11am, there will be a yoga workshop led by Michelle Chand. Her aim is to teach assessible yoga to people of all abilities and to work with challenges such as injury and illness, both physical and emotional.

On Saturday, October 29, from 10am to 11am there will be an art workshop led by Sophie Denny. It is open to anyone who finds it difficult to express themselves in words and is ideal to help boost confidence, self-esteem and concentration.

There will be no cost to attend either of these events, just make a donation if you wish. To book, call Maria on 07453 458412, or email at maria.ruiz@richmondfellowship.org.uk

The networking and support event at Sparky's Café on Monday, October 10.

The mental health networking and support event was held at Sparky’s Café on Monday, October 10.

Speakers at the event on Monday included Annalise Baker from Oakleaf, Jane De La Rosa of Catalyst, Guildford Action’s chief executive Joanne Tester, Sarah Swann and Sharon Dean from Surrey and Borders Partnership, volunteer recovery support worker Justin Pinder from the Isle of Wight and Hannah Pidsley from ThinkAction.

Planning for the event was by law graduate Chloe Williams. She is workjing for two years for Surrey County Council on a graduate scheme as a new models of delivery officer.

She said: “Part of my role is to work with an organisation to run a project for them. I am interested in mental health and the Richmond Fellowship was suggested.

“It wanted to organise an event certered around Sparky’s Café, so we have brought together a number of related service providers and users. I am really pleased how sucessful it has been.”

Chloe Williams (left) with Maddy Smith.

Chloe Williams (left) with Maddy Smith.

In organsing the event, Chloe worked closely with Richmond Fellowship locality manager Maddy Smith.

For opening times of Sparky’s Café and more details, click here for our previous story.

Giving Good Advice On Health And Wellbeing

The Diocese of Guildford’s Communities Engagement Team helps churches and their parishioners across Surrey in their work supporting their communities. This, the fourth in a series of stories, focuses on Suzette Jones and her work as its health and wellbeing advisor.

Suzette Jones.

Suzette Jones.

A registered nurse for over 35 years, Suzette Jones has worked extensively with a wide variety of people who have severe health problems, mental illness and/or a learning disability in hospital and community settings.

Suzette supports and facilitates training, talks and projects on a range of health-related subjects including mental health, addiction, suicide prevention, domestic abuse, disability, mindfulness and wellbeing to the faith, voluntary and statutory sectors.

Suzette said: “The most popular talk at present is Mindfulness, A Christian Perspective. Mindfulness simply means paying attention to our experience in the present moment, on purpose and with an attitude of kindly acceptance.

“What, why and who is it for? This introduction to mindfulness, invites attendees to ‘dip into the present moment’ with simple exercises to focus and gain attention and useful techniques for using mindfulness in everyday life.”

Mental distress is a common feature of everyday life; one in four of us are mentally unwell at any one time, with over half of us experiencing stress and depression.

The Real Me, a 90-minutes talk, provides an insight into the major mental health issues of today, the pathway of care and what might we do to help keep ourselves and our communities well.

All the talks are open to all and Suzette is happy to deliver these free of charge with a gratefully received donation to The Bishop of Guildford’s Foundation.

Working in partnership with local government, public services and voluntary groups, Suzette participates on a variety of committees. She is fully funded by the Diocese of Guildford.

Click here for the Diocese of Guildford’s website and its health and wellbeing page that is part of its Communities Engagement Team.

Hear Hear Clinics Resonate In Guildford Diocese’s Parishes

The Diocese of Guildford’s Communities Engagement Team helps churches and their parishioners across Surrey in their work supporting their communities. This, the third in a series of stories, focuses on Tracey Wade and her work as its sensory inclusion advisor.

Hearing aid clinics – under the banner Hear Here – are becoming regular events in a growing number of parishes – with hearing champions equipping volunteers with basic skills which are being used to help parishes engage with their local communities.

The hearing aid clinic at St Andrew’s Church, Goldsworth Park, Woking, is one of 25 which have been set up in churches across Surrey with the help of the Community Engagement Team’s sensory inclusion adviser Tracey Wade.

Volunteers are trained to become hearing champions, increasing deaf awareness and local access to hearing maintenance.

St Andrew’s churchwarden Barry Nay, who helps run the monthly session at the church, said: “A reporter ran a story about the clinic in the Woking News & Mail and we had 27 visitors to our first session in 2014.

“With St Andrew’s being in a prime location, with a very large free car park and easy access, it makes it a popular choice for someone wanting to visit during their lunch hour break. We had several of those, and had to jump the queue to accommodate them.

“With some simple training and resources from Tracey we have been able to meet what is clearly a real need within our community, and we are delighted to be able to help in this way.”

Tracey Wade.

Tracey Wade.

Tracey said: “During 2016 a further 29 volunteer champions – there are now 155 in total – were trained in basic hearing-aid maintenance and the clinics are proving popular with the number of visitors increasing all the time.

“It is exciting to see too how much the volunteers are enjoying helping people in this way too. Improving someone’s ability to hear can make a significant difference to people’s lives and I would like to thank the volunteers for all that they are doing.”

Joan Boxall (seated) visiting the recent Merrow training session generously allowing volunteers to practise their newly acquired skills on her.

Joan Boxall (seated) visiting the recent Merrow training session generously allowing volunteers to practise their newly acquired skills on her.

Tracey is available to help parishes check their loop systems and has a pool of loop equipment available for parishes to borrow as they explore possible solutions.

For more details on hearing services including lipreading classes email Tracey at tracey.wade@cofeguildford.org.uk or SMS (txt/voice): 07531 268476 or telephone 01483 790327.

Click here for the diocese’s website and the section on sensory inclusion.

Caption: Joan Boxall (seated) visiting the recent Merrow training session generously allowing volunteers to practise their newly acquired skills on her.

Don’t Let Debt Drive You To Suicide Says CAP Charity

The Guildford branch of a debt charity is calling for people stressed by finances to seek help.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP), which has centres in Guildford and Woking, is appealing for people to take action following Suicide Prevention Day that was on September 10.

CAP logoMore than a third of people asking the charity for help with debts say they have seriously considered or attempted suicide.

Guildford centre manager Jane Seals said: “A shocking number of the people we’re helping were once so stressed and desperate, they thought suicide was their only way out. It’s incredibly sad because once we’re alongside them, tackling their finances with them, it’s amazing to see how fast that feeling of hope is restored.

“My concerns are always for the people who are secretly dealing with huge debt problems who don’t realise that free help is available.

“Our message to them today is, you are not on your own. Speak to us, or another good free debt agency. We can help you get on top of things, sleep better and really live life again.

“Christians Against Poverty celebrates 20 years this year and we’ve never yet seen a situation that can’t be sorted out so please, let us see what we can do to lift that weight.”

Suicide Prevention Day sought to reduce the 6,500 people dying from suicide in the UK and Northern Ireland every year. This year’s focus was connect, communicate, care – a message that shows everyone can help prevent suicide by asking how someone is, signposting them to those who can help and by looking out for warning signs that someone is feeling very low.

CAP is an award-winning charity offering a free service to everyone regardless of age, gender, faith or background.

It sees every client in their home, offering both emotional support and a practical solution. CAP’s dedicated head-office staff negotiate with creditors on the client’s behalf and help to draw up a budget.

A team of befrienders ensures that each person paying off debts or going through an insolvency is supported often by others who have experienced the same situations themselves.

Personal debt is mostly commonly caused by low income, joblessness, relationship breakdown or illness in the family.

Guildford CAP Centre, is based at Westborough United Reformed Church but supported by seventeen other local church congregations in the locality.

For more information visit capdebthelp.org or call 0800 328 0006.

Helping To Raise Awareness And Needs Of Unpaid Carers

The Diocese of Guildford’s Communities Engagement Team helps churches and their parishioners across Surrey in their work supporting their communities. In the second of a series of stories that focus the wide range of services offered by the team, Clive Richardson talks about his role in helping to raise the awareness of unpaid carers.

Clive said: My role is to help raise awareness of the needs of unpaid carers, that is, those looking after someone else, to parishes and other faith groups.

“I work in partnership with local carer support groups and Surrey County Council.

Clive Richardson.

Clive Richardson.

“By making parishes more aware of carers and their needs, I hope to support the local pastoral care they already supply, and enable them to pass the information onto others working in the community, ensuring that carer support reaches where it is needed.

“To this end, I visit churches, the clergy and their pastoral teams to speak about carers’ needs and also to find out what is already on offer.

“Many local communities have quite a rich and varied number of activities going on, but sometimes information about them is difficult to find.

“Because of my parish visits, I am able to pass on details and contacts, so that good ideas and best practice can be shared.

“I also organise two events, the Carers Tea and Evensong at Guildford Cathedral (this year on Thursday, October 13), and a new event titled Young Carers in February 2017. These events give recognition to the dedication and commitment of carers, as well as providing an opportunity to connect with other carers.

“I have met some lovely people whose dedication to those they care for and the sacrifices they have made are humbling, and I think they deserve all the support and help we can give.”

On the Diocese of Guildford’s website, within the section on the Communities Engagement Team, it is noted that in Surrey there are an estimated 110,000 carers – children as well as adults. A man looking after his wife. A parent caring for a disabled child. A child looking after a parent with mental health issues. A woman helping her elderly parents. A mother and father supporting an adult child with mental health or substance misuse issues.

  • 42% feel they wouldn’t have support from people in their community in an emergency.
  • 40% feel they get no encouragement or support.

The Diocese ststes: “These aren’t statistics, they’re people, and they need help. Caring can be full-time. It can isolate, it can leave people emotionally stressed, and it can be a financial struggle. They might just need a friendly piece of encouragement or maybe some of the suppport on offer in the community.

“We aim to get carers the suppport they need, by linking them with the right people and organisations.”

Clive Richardson can be contacted on 01483 790330 or 07990 956392. Email: clive.richardson@cofeguildford.org.uk

Click here for the website and more details.

Click here for the previous story in this series on the Diocese’s Surrey Faith Links project.

Valuable Placements For Students Offered By Citizens Advice Guildford

Citizens Advice Guildford is offering placements to students while on their sandwich or gap year.

Advisors at work at Citizens Advice Guildford.

Advisors at work at Citizens Advice Guildford.

The 30-week placement is ideal for someone studying subjects such as sociology, social policy, politics or law.

The bureau’s manager Joan O’Byrne said: “Although we are offering placments to students from the University of Surrey, it occurs to us that there are Guildford families with students who aren’t at university here but who are looking for something to do in their sandwich year and who may be interested too.

“We had a student who spent his gap year here before going to university and he’s coming back to Guildford for a masters and is coming back to help us with analysis and research.

“We are also looking at the opportunities we can provide to the University of Law students at its Guildford college, who can work alongside us on reception, for casework, for initial assessments and even (if they can commit the time) to becoming qualified advisers.”

Joan O'Byrne, bureau manager of Citizens Advice Guildford.

Joan O’Byrne, bureau manager at Citizens Advice Guildford.

Joan adds that the work placements will start in September, and said: “Whilst we can’t pay them, it’s fabulous to know we’re really providing them with valuable experience for their futures.”

Placement duties a student undertakes includes: fast-track training for advice giving; reception, information assistant and admin roles; helping to shape and improve office procedures, ensure full recording of cases and outcomes, helping to identify development opportunities, and supporting management of contracts; plus campaign and research roles, supporting and identification and production of evidence around issues that could be addressed locally or as part of a national campaign.

One student, Natasha, who has benefitted though a placement at Citizens Advice Guildford, said: “It has and continues to be one of the most important experiences in my life. Opportunities to develop skills and gain knowledge are presented on a daily basis and will help you progress as a student and mature as an adult.

“While in the voluntary sector the words ‘challenging but rewarding’ are used frequently, a placement at Citizens Advice Guildford goes so much further beyond that. The camaraderie between the volunteers was inviting enough to stay on beyond the placement dates. In no other office is there such a caring, intellectual and cheerful network of people to support you not only with advice-giving but with the emotional challenges that are inherent in the role.

“Initial training is intense and clients’ situations can be stressful and hard work, but armed with a wealth of knowledge and access to information, advising those most vulnerable in the local community is the most satisfying learning curve and I cannot stress the importance of this experience enough.

“The vast amounts of information I have learnt so far is invaluable not only for my degree but also for my adult life. Academically, I have been able to consolidate knowledge and theories taught at the university.

“Witnessing how law and legislation practically affects local citizens and where our state system fails those most vulnerable in society is an insight that will not be forgotten. Skills like report writing, face-to-face interview skills and team work are further strengths the placement has given me for my future career.

“Additionally, navigating the ins and outs of local bureaucracy, knowing how to handle a range of disputes and understanding the support available for people facing a variety of problems stands me in very good stead for my future, both personally and in my career.”

Citizens Advice new logoApplicants should have a proven academic track record, enthusiasm, maturity, open-mindced, non-judgmental, be able to listen, learn and work in a team.

For anyone interested in finding out more, you can request an application form from the bureau’s office manager John Evans. Email him at john.evans@guildfordcab.org.uk

Complete and return the form and you will then be contacted about an interview.

Guildford Diocese’s Project That’s Building Relationships Between Faith Groups

The Diocese of Guildford’s Communities Engagement Team helps churches and their parishioners across Surrey in their work supporting their communities. This, in the first of a series of stories that focus the wide range of services offered by the team, features its Surrey Faith Links project.

The team’s Surrey Faith Links project builds relationships between faith groups and others so that they can better serve their local communities.

Kauser Akhtar

Kauser Akhtar of the Diocese of Guildford’s Communities Engagement Team leads its Surrey Faith Links project.

Led by Kauser Akhtar, her monthly newsletter gives news of inter-faith events and opportunities across Surrey.

The project aims to link up with communities that are sometimes harder to reach and to share information and understand need.

It also aims to bring different faith communities together to develop a better understanding of each other and a more cohesive society.

Kauser said: “One of the major events during the year in the interfaith world is celebrating International Day of Peace. This year I am working with the Interfaith Forums to organise the following events:”

Faith and Inner Peace aims to look at faith perspectives on mental health. It takes place on Monday, September 19, at the Thames Ditton Centre, at 7pm.

The Annual Peace Day event in Woking town centre (Mercia Walk) is on Saturday, September 24, from at 11am to noon. It features a poster/poem competition for primary school aged children. The winners will be awarded prizes by the Mayor of Woking, plus there will be entertainment and readings of peace from different religions.

Kauser is also organising two events in September with Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum around mental health and young people from the black and minority ethnic community. These will raise awareness about the issues faced by young people and also signpost to services that are available to support them.

She added: “I also deliver training to various organisations on faith and culture. This includes schools, hospital staff, businesses and other voluntary organisations.

“The training is tailored to address the type of clients the organisation has or the specific field they cover.

For more information on events or to receive a free monthly e-newsletter, email: Kauser.Akhtar@cofeguildford.org.uk or visit: www.surreyfaithlinks.org.uk

Surrey Faith Links has gathered a list of more than 600 faith organisations, which are spread across the county’s districts. Image reproduced from Surrey Faith Links website.

Surrey Faith Links has gathered a list of more than 600 faith organisations, which are spread across the county’s districts. Image reproduced from Surrey Faith Links website.

Sparky’s Is A New Café With A Difference

Another new café has opened in Guildford – but with a difference!

Sparky’s is based at Farnham Road Hospital, open to all, and is staffed by young people with mental health problems.

Sparky's cafeIt has been set up as non-for-profit social enterprise by the Richmond Fellowship, a charity organisation with more of 55 years of experience in mental health recovery.

Its commitment is to help people to recovery from their mental health or misuse of substances problems.

Richmond FellowshipMaria Ruiz, team leader with Richmond Fellowship’s Recovery Focus programme, said: “Sparky’s café is a very nice place where people can enjoy delicious food made under high standards of food hygiene and wonderful customer service.

“Currently we are training five volunteers with mental health problems, helping them to develop their skills in catering, customer service, organisation and admin fields. We are doing really great but still we need a lot of help to make this project sustainable.

“I’m planning to offer workshops (yoga, food and mood, art) and organise events connected with wellbeing.”

Sparky’s also offers a place where meetings and events can be held with buffet lunches.

It is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, and from 9.30am to 3.30pm on Saturdays.

Farnham Road Hospital is a specialist mental health hospital, providing round-the-clock support to adults and older adults experiencing acute mental ill-health as well as housing community mental health and day services.

Give An Hour, Get One Back With The Guildford Time Bank

The Guildford Time Bank is a new community initiative that’s all about people giving their time to help each other.

Time-banking is a way that people can share their skills and make friends. Time is exchanged and not money and everyone’s time is equal – an hour for an hour.

Guildford Time bank logo - finalSomeone may offer to mow someone’s lawn, or undertake a spot of home decorating or maintenance and by doing so earn credits by way of hours. In turn, someone else may offer their time to them, perhaps offering computer skills or teaching them to play a musical instrument.

A group of volunteers have come together and are setting up the Guildford Time Bank and further volunteers are more than welcome to join them.

Nationally, the idea has been in operation for some time and there is an umbrella organisation called Timebanking UK that offers help and support to new groups such as the Guildford one.

Its regional representative for this area has been liaising with interested parties including Surrey County Council, the Diocese of Guildford and Guildford Borough Council who are keen to see the project get off the ground.

Voluntary Action South West Surrey is one of those organisations and its staff member Ian Ross has recruited the initial volunteers, giving them important advice and support so that they can operate and grow the project themselves.

Ian said: “It is a Guildford borough-wide project and will be led by the community. I have been helping and training the volunteers who will be running the Guildford Time Bank.

“It is ideal for those who are retired or work part-time and are looking to get involved with their local community.”

And simply signing up as a Time Bank member (if you do not want to be one of the volunteers helping to run it) is ideal for people who are working and who can offer an hour here or an hour there rather than a larger chunk of their time each week.

The Guildford Time Bank works on an on-line system that is easy to use and where those who sign up to give their time and services list what they have to offer. People make contact with each other via email and arrange their services accordingly. They can also check how many hours of credit they have built up.

Ian adds: “I have been showing our volunteers how this system works and there is a members’ handbook covering all you need to know. We have also been talking about how they will promote time-banking to the wider community. They will soon be out and about at local events and places recruiting Time Bank members.

“But don’t worry if you have time and skills to offer but are not on the internet. The admin team will be able to arrange your time-banking sessions for you and will give you all the support you need.”

Contact Ian Ross for more details on 01483 504626. Email: guildfordtimebank@gmail.com or see the website: www.guildfordtimebank.interests.me

Dray Court Alive To The Sound Of Music

Residents at Dray Court sheltered housing in Madrid Road, Guildford, were treated to and sang along to some great music on Thursday (June 23).

Enjoying the singalong at Dray Court.

Enjoying the singalong at Dray Court.

It was hosted by Neighbourhood Angels, which is part the Diocese of Guildford’s Community Engagement Team, and also featured students from the University of Surrey and staff from its Students’ Union.

The team’s Neighbourhood Angels project co-ordinator Rachel Guilford said: “We had a singalong of songs from the musicals, everyone joined in and enjoyed it. One particularly lovely voice was a lady who used to be an opera singer. It brought back memories for her.

Tea is served.

Tea is served.

“Students brought lots of cakes and we were amazed that there were only four cakes left at the end (after the third round). Tea also went down very well.

“The atmosphere was vibrant and full of conversations and smiling faces (when not filled with cake). Everyone was so grateful, of the company, tea, cakes and music. And there were lots of requests for another event.

“The students enjoyed getting to know the older residents and hearing their stories.”

Nicola Bassani with one of the residents at Dray Court.

Nicola Bassani with one of the residents at Dray Court.

Nicola Bassani, Guildford Community Connector, of the Communities Engagement Team also shared information about support that is available in the borough of Guildford, which was gratefully received.

Rachel added: “We hope this will be a more regular event and plan to arrange the next social event in November.”

She also said that Neighbourhood Angels supports vulnerable adults who are facing isolation. There are currently volunteer ‘Angels’, who are befriending people all over the borough, making a huge difference to individuals.

Rachel Guilford (with angel wings) provides the music on keyboards.

Rachel Guilford (with angel wings) provides the music on keyboards.

The idea of having a social event at Dray Court arose from a realisation of the number of students who wanted to make a difference in their community.

Rachel said: “Dray Court seemed the ideal environment to start to build relationships between students and older residents who might appreciate the company of younger people.

“I believe that people flourish in community, rather than isolation and hope.

“Neighbourhood Angels can help to build meaningful relationships that bring out the best in people, regardless of age or ability.”

Everyone had a great time!

Everyone had a great time!

To find out more about Neighbourhood Angels, contact Rachel on 07796098077, Rachel.guilford@cofeguildford.org.uk, or visit its webpage: www.cofeguildford.org.uk/neighbourhood-angels

Free Email Newsletter Tool For Community Groups And Organisations

A free email newsletter tool called interests.me is fast being taken up and used by community groups, clubs, societies and charities in the Guildford area.

interests.me buttonVoluntary Action South West Surrey is encouraging organisations and groups it supports to sign up to interests.me as it will offer them a neat way to spread the word about their activities.

Easy to use, interests.me works on a number of levels. Firstly, by being an easy portal to send group emails that are attractive, eye catching and therefore more likely to be read by the recipient.

Secondly, you can let other local groups share your news through their own emails.

And thirdly, users can publish details of events, notices, stories about themselves and so on, on community networking pages.

It’s a great website for people to visit to find out what’s going on in their local area.

When you think back to those long gone days before emails and websites, the options a local club or group had to keep its members informed were limited – perhaps by a letter through the post or a phone call. And in publicising an event, there was not much more than posters and flyers.

That’s not to say that these forms of communication are no longer necessary, but as everyone knows email, and social media too, play a big part in getting messages out to communities.

Some of the organisations who have signed up and are using interests.me via its ‘Guildford community’ include the ETHOS Project, Girlguiding Hogs Back, Headway Surrey, Joining In!, North Guildford Wardens, South West Surrey Cruse Bereavement Care, Sunday Assembly Guildford, and Surrey Group Leaders Network.

To see how it is working and where you can also sign up click on to https://interests.me/community/joininginguildford

Click here for general details about interests.me.

Or call Voluntary Action South West Surrey on 01483 504626. Email: info@vasws.org.uk

Churches’ Debt Service Identifies People With Anxiety And Depression

A programme run by a number of Guildford churches is helping people with anxiety, depression and other psychological conditions to find new hope.

CAP logoIt is part of their work with the charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

They find that poor mental health often runs hand-in-hand with financial difficulties. Follwing the recent Mental Health Awareness Week, they have been highlighting that debt help and friendship is available locally.

Guildford CAP debt centre manager Jane Seals said: “If you’ve no money but you’re getting constant demands, threatening letters and phone calls, it’s very stressful. There’s the fear of losing your home, the worry of not being a good parent, relationships feeling the pressure. It’s not surprising that a quarter of our clients describe themselves as having poor mental health.

“However, it also goes the other way. Debt can also be a by-product of an on-going condition. It’s much harder to be working and earning if you’re suffering from a mental health issue and therefore, you’re more likely to be struggling with day-to-day costs.”

The free service from CAP has won several national awards and the charity is regarded as an industry leader for helping the most vulnerable people with a uniquely in-depth service. CAP is also frequently recommended by TV’s money saving expert Martin Lewis.

Jane added: “If you’re feeling low and financial problems are part of that, we want to hear from you.

“CAP’s system is great for people who are struggling because we come to see you in your home, CAP’s staff at the headquarters in Bradford negotiate with all your creditors and we organise all the paperwork. It’s also absolutely free and for everyone whatever their age, gender, faith or background.

“In a recent survey, 94% described our service as ‘a great help’ or even ‘life transforming’, so we hope people will give us a ring and book in for us to come and see them.”

She added that on May 5, MPs in the House of Commons discussed the faith community’s positive contribution to society. The Guildford churches are glad to be part of that in the local area.

If you need help with debt problems see capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.

Community comes together for a night of great music

Local talent put on a fabulous community concert that raised funds for projects in Guildford and London that support people who are homeless.

Sammy Rat and the resonators played a mix of their style of Americana folk, blues and country songs.

Sammy Rat and the Resonators played a mixture Americana folk, blues and country songs. Photographer David Beamish volunteered and kindly took pictures throughout the evening, some of which are seen here.

It was hosted by St Clare’s Church in Park Barn and a full house was entertained by singers and musicians of a variety of ages. Sammy Rat and the Resonators, led by David Rose of The Guildford Dragon NEWS and the Joining In! project, anchored the evening with a set at the start and the end.

No Direction complete with a multitude of hats.

No Direction complete with a multitude of hats.

Some of the members of the Surrey Fringe vocal harmony group became One Direction for the night and sang several songs in their slick a capella style.

For one night only - the Reclaimers.

For one night only – the Reclaimers.

Brian and Trevor from the group also donned thick-framed glasses and did a skit on Scots duo the Proclaimers, calling themselves the Reclaimers!

Singer-songwriter Hannah Dorman.

Singer-songwriter Hannah Dorman.

Hannah Dorman is an up and coming singer-songwriter who lives in Park Barn. She sang two song during the evening both of which were extremely well received. For more details click here for her website.

Singer and musician Paul.

Singer and musician Paul.

After the interval, musician and singer Paul (also from Park Barn) performed two songs he had composed himself.

Rhythm of Life community choir.

Rhythm of Life community choir.

Next it was the turn of the locally based Rhythm of Life community choir, led by its conductor Karen Taylor, a final year music student at the University of Surrey.

Karen Taylor, music director of the Rhythm of Life choir.

Karen Taylor, music director of the Rhythm of Life choir.

The 25-strong choir sang a number of songs that included Sunny Afternoon, Fly Me To The Moon, and Amazing Grace.

Katie Collins and Bryony Rose

Katie Collins and Bryony Rose

They were followed by Bryony Rose and Katie Collins who delighted the audience with three songs that showed off their natural vocal harmonies.

The full-on evening was held on Saturday, May 7, it was was hugely enjoyed and £450 was raised for good causes.

The team vicar of St Clare's Church, the Revd Steve Pownall.

The team vicar of St Clare’s Church, the Revd Steve Pownall.

The team vicar of St Clare’s Church, the Revd Steve Pownall said the money raised is being split equally two ways. It will go to a Methodist Church circuit called the West London Mission. It does a great deal of work helping homeless and marginalised people, something it’s being doing since 1887! There is a personal link with the miussion and community works in Park Barn.

And to Guildford Action, an independent charity that has been operating for 30 years and which also helps people who are homeless and isolated.

Steve added: “Well done to all the musicians and thanks to those who dug deep in their pockets and made a donation. A jolly good time was had by all.”

David Rose said: “This was a joint effort with many local people coming together volunteering their musical talents. It wasn’t the first concert of its kind to be held here and there will be more – they go down so well!

“Through my role as Joining In! co-ordinator (a project that supports community involvement) I invited people to take part and I also promoted it widely. It was indeed a great success.”

Notice: Volunteer Neighbourhood Angels Needed

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Charity Successfully Helping People To Become Debt Free

A church-based charity is celebrating four years of rescuing local people from personal debt – a free service that has literally been saving lives.

In May 2012, members of a group of Guildford churches decided they wanted to do more to help the local community and partnered with UK debt counselling charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) to open a local branch.

CAP's Guildford centre manager Jane Seals.

CAP’s Guildford centre manager Jane Seals.

Members of the team have helped more than 120 despairing local families and individuals by offering a free, face-to-face and caring service, which gives both hope and a solution.

The Guildford centre’s manager Jane Seals said: “We have been in a lot of homes during these four years and learned about some very sad situations.

“Debt can be so destructive, making people feel so desperate, scared to go out or even open the curtains. Relationships come under a lot of stress and people worry about keeping their home and providing for their families.

“However, we’ve also seen that however terrible something appears, there is always a solution and the benefit of the way CAP works is that it is really thorough, taking someone step by step to becoming debt free.”

CAP logoJane tells the story of one woman who contacted CAP just before Christmas one year. Shelley (not her real name) was struggling to make ends meet after her partner had left her and her two-year old.

She had discovered that the bills she thought he was paying were actually mounting up and were in her name and she had no way of paying them off as she was living on benefits. To make matters worse her boiler had broken down and her landlord was refusing to get it fixed till after Christmas. Bailiffs were visiting to try to collect arrears of council tax.

Jane’s first action was to take round an electric heater, so that they could at least keep warm. She also advised Shelley what to say to the bailiffs when they called. Then she collected all of Shelley’s financial information and sent it to CAP’s head office, which the caseworkers used to prepare a workable budget.

They advised that it would take Shelley more than five years to pay off her debts, unless her circumstances changed, which seemed unlikely. So they helped her to obtain a Debt Relief Order to clear her debts. Within five months of contacting CAP for help, Shelley was debt free. She is now determined to manage her finances and stick to a budget.

CAP’s service is available to everyone regardless of age, gender, faith or background.

To find out more, visit www.capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006

Citizens Advice Guildford Is Offering Valuable Placements To Students

Guildford Citizens Advice is offering placements to students while on their sandwich or gap year.

The 30-week placement is ideal for someone studying subjects such as sociology, social policy, politics or law.

Advisors at work at Citizens Advice Guildford.

Advisors at work at Guildford Citizens Advice.

The bureau’s manager Joan O’Byrne said: “Although we are offering placments to students from the University of Surrey, it occurs to us that there are Guildford families with students who aren’t at university here but who are looking for something to do in their sandwich year and who may be interested too.

“We had a student who spent his gap year here before going to university and he’s coming back to Guildford for a masters and is likely to come back to help us with analysis and research.

“We are also looking at the opportunities we can provide to the University of Law students at its Guildford college, who work alongside us on reception, for casework, for initial assessments and even (if they can commit the time) to becoming qualified advisers.”

Joan adds that the work placements will start from September, and said: “Whilst we can’t pay them, it’s fabulous to know we’re really providing them with valuable experience for their futures.”

Placement duties a student undertakes includes: fast-track training for advice giving; reception, information assistant and admin roles; helping to shape and improve office procedures, ensure full recording of cases and outcomes, helping to identify development opportunities, and supporting management of contracts; plus campaign and research roles, supporting and identification and production of evidence around issues that could be addressed locally or as part of a national campaign.

Citizens Advice new logoApplicants should have a proven academic track record, enthusiasm, maturity, open-mindced, non-judgmental, be able to listen, learn and work in a team.

One student, Natasha, who has benefitted though a placement at Guildford Citizens Advice, said: “It has and continues to be one of the most important experiences in my life. Opportunities to develop skills and gain knowledge are presented on a daily basis and will help you progress as a student and mature as an adult.

“While in the voluntary sector the words ‘challenging but rewarding’ are used frequently, a placement at Citizens Advice Guildford goes so much further beyond that. The camaraderie between the volunteers was inviting enough to stay on beyond the placement dates. In no other office is there such a caring, intellectual and cheerful network of people to support you not only with advice-giving but with the emotional challenges that are inherent in the role.

“Initial training is intense and clients’ situations can be stressful and hard work, but armed with a wealth of knowledge and access to information, advising those most vulnerable in the local community is the most satisfying learning curve and I cannot stress the importance of this experience enough.

“The vast amounts of information I have learnt so far is invaluable not only for my degree but also for my adult life. Academically, I have been able to consolidate knowledge and theories taught at the university.

“Witnessing how law and legislation practically affects local citizens and where our state system fails those most vulnerable in society is an insight that will not be forgotten. Skills like report writing, face-to-face interview skills and team work are further strengths the placement has given me for my future career.

“Additionally, navigating the ins and outs of local bureaucracy, knowing how to handle a range of disputes and understanding the support available for people facing a variety of problems stands me in very good stead for my future, both personally and in my career.”

For anyone interested in finding out more, you can request an application form from the bureau’s office manager John Evans. Email him at john.evans@guildfordcab.org.uk

Complete and return the form and you will then be contacted about an interview.

Successful Free Advice Sessions Within GP Surgeries Set To Continue And Expand

A pilot scheme that offers people free advice services at a number of local Guildford GP surgeries has been a great success, and will now continue and be expanded.

Set up by Guildford Advice Services (itself a project to promote collaboration between advice agencies in the borough) the one-year nine-month pilot was launched in February 2015. Advisors from Guildford Citizens Advice have been offering their services at four Guildford GP surgeries.

Sally Taylorson (left), who leads the scheme, with Amanda Creese, the advisor at the advice sessions in the GP surgeries.

Sally Taylorson (left), who leads the scheme, with Amanda Creese, the advisor at the advice sessions in the GP surgeries.

The pilot scheme has been seen by more than 226 clients with 427 appointments, proving its viability.

Now, with funding for a further year from the Guildford & Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group and Guildford Borough Council, there will be sessions at the following GP surgeries:

Mondays: alternate weeks at Merrow Park Surgery (clients do not need to be registered as patients at the surgery), and The Villages Medical Centre in Send (clients need to be registered as patients at the surgery).

Tuesdays: The Oaks Surgery, Park Barn (clients have to be registered as patients to the Guildown Group’s practice).

Wednesdays: Wonersh Surgery (clients do not need to be registered with the surgery).

Thursdays: Stoughton Road, Bellfields (clients have to be registered as patients to the Guildown Group’s practice).

All sessions are free and are with trained personnel from Guildford Citizens Advice. They are held between 1.30pm and 4.30pm on the days specified (1pm to 4pm at The Villages Medical Centre). There are four 45-minute slots available each afternoon (four 30-minute appointments at The Villages Medical Centre), booked by reception staff at each surgery.

Call the surgeries direct to make an appointment.

Citizens Advice new logoThe team running the pilot scheme said they are proud to share their achievements so far.

They said that the scheme has improved access to people seeking advice (98% said it was easy to access); it has been an effective response to un-met needs (60% hadn’t been to Citizens Advice before); and at least 55% of clients are from Guildford’s most deprived areas where social determinants of health can impact.

Most clients were referred to the service by their GP practice staff or had picked up a leaflet at the surgery. 39% were disabled or had long-term health problems – the others would have had health problems as they were at their GP surgery. Many of the clients who returned a survey (92) said they had been stressed or upset and had felt better after having had advice.

The scheme has identified significant potential financial benefits for clients (some £374,000 overall). Potential average annualised value, dependent on welfare benefit, has been from £47 to £3,633 for the individual client concerned.

During the pilot scheme the service was accessed by people ages between 18 to 95 years, with 60% over the age of 50.

It dealt with a wide range of matters (664 issues) with a ratio of 2.9 issues per enquiry. The main enquiry areas have been about welfare benefits.

There were high levels of satisfaction among surgery staff and it is valued by GPs. All clients said they would be likely to recommend it to friends and family.

The pilot has shown that, based on a £35,000 investment – funded by the Big Lottery, Guildford Poyle Charities and Guildford Citizens Advice – and using the potential outcomes identified, for every £1 invested there is the potential of a £10.69 return for the individual and a £8.54 return of public value. There is no cost for government with a £1.48 return for every £1 invested.

The aim is to continue and develop the service more widely. Sally Taylorson, who led the pilot scheme and has been working on the next stage, is pleased delighted that the scheme will also be operating in other areas. She said: “We are excited not only that we are introducing in to a fairly diverse setting such as Send, but we will also be very interested in monitoring the outcomes in a more rural location such as Wonersh.”

Amanda Creese is the advisor at the sessions. She added: “I am seeing issues and problems that are arising with people on a low wage and in particular helping clients applying for disability benefits. There are those who, under the new Personal Independence Payment system, fear losing payments for a car or mobility scooter, therefore losing their independence. I support people and help them with their applications to get in monetary terms what they deserve.”

Conference Generates Plenty Of Ideas And Thoughts Within Voluntary Sector

Voluntary Action South West Surrey’s annual conference was this year titled Generate, and it did just that – with a full complement of delegates.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, speaks at Voluntary Action South West Surrey's conference in the lecture theatre at Christ's College.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, speaks at Voluntary Action South West Surrey’s conference in the lecture theatre at Christ’s College.

They heard a number of speakers and attended workshops all based around the voluntary sector.

Held once again at Christ’s College in Bellfields on Tuesday, April 5, the keynote speaker was Sir Stuart Etherington, the chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

The theme of his speech was centered around the Government’s focus on the voluntary sector over recent years. In it he noted that there is currently no clear policy on the sector from the two leading political parties. He told delegates to think what the Big Society ideology would have been like now if it had had a proper policy.

From Voluntary Action, David Rose spoke about the success of the project he co-ordinates called Joining In! It supports community involvement in the Westborough ward of Guildford. He gave examples of how the community is coming together engaging in many positive and popular activities, and the awareness he is making of Guildford Borough Council’s Project Aspire. This is a scheme asking communities what improvements they would like to see created from a £250,000 funding programme.

While Helen Linnell, along with Dom Frazer of Guildford entertainement venue the Boileroom, gave details of SOUP – a revolutionary new, easy and fun way in which communities can raise funds for local projects.

Other speakers included: Phelim Brady of the Guildford & Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group; Surrey County Council’s Rebecca Brooker, who works in adult social care, and its procurement involvement officer Cindy Nadesan; Simone Booth, who is involved in a timebank project in Lewisham, a social network of local people who give and receive support from each other.

Nigel Smallbone led a workshop based on his personal thoughts on developing and generating new projects. he is pictued with a book her urged attendees to read and brought along a commemorative plate linked to football and a man of vision Jimmy Hill.

Nigel Smallbone led a workshop based on his personal thoughts on developing and generating new projects. He is pictued with a book her urged attendees to read and brought along a commemorative plate linked to football and a man of vision, the late Jimmy Hill.

Among the various workshops, former Voluntary Action staff member Nigel Smallbone focused on ways he has worked in developing and generating new projects. He gave first-hand examples and tips on how to make such projects work. He titled it ‘Jimmy Hill and me’. Although he admitted he isn’t much of a football fan, he admires the work, enthusiasm and strength of the late Jimmy Hill whose pioneering work changed professional football for fans and players alike.

While Helen Cammack led a workshop on a webmail system she is involved in developing called interests.me. The title being ‘How to use email and social media for your group without tearing your hair out!’

Voluntary Action is using interests.me and taking part in a pilot scheme for it.

Inspirational speaker, trainer and coach Panos Panagou, closed the conference encouraging attendees to ensure all the things they learned on the day were both memorable and actionable.

Nicola Bassannai of the Dioces of Guildford's Community Engagement Team talks to a delgate in the market place.

Nicola Bassani of the Diocese of Guildford’s Communities Engagement Team talks to a delegate in the marketplace.

In the modern school’s atrium there was a marketplace with organisations and businesses giving details of their projects – and also some cows.

 

Pictured with one of the Cow Parade models, from left: Chris xxx, Mike xxx, Laura Tufnail, Pat xx and Carol Dunnett.

Pictured with one of the Cow Parade models, from left: Voluntary Action volunteer Chris, its chairman Mike Hughes, staff member Laura Tufnail, volunteer Pat Stacey and its chief officer Carol Dunnett.

Not real ones, but models in artwork form and promoting the forthcoming public art event, Cow Parade, aimed to help raise money for local community projects and enterprise schemes that benefit and enhance the Surrey Hills landscape.

 

Getting Message Across That Any Form Of Sex Abuse And Violence Is Unacceptable

Guildford-based Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) has been closely involved with the current national awareness week with the message that any form of sexual abuse and violence is unacceptable.

The seven-day programme (running from February 1 to 7) is aiming to generate discussion among the general public, statutory bodies and third sector organisations about how best to tackle sexual abuse and violence.

Awareness-week-website-1024x341The theme of the week is ‘It’s Not Ok’ and all of the biggest events, discussion points and activities can be shared and followed on social media via the hashtag #ItsNotOk.

RASASC provides specialist support to anyone affected by rape and sexual abuse across Surrey and beyond. It provides a confidential helpline, counselling and independent sexual violence advisor (ISVA) services.

Bradley (name changed for identity reasons) aged 47, had not spoken about the abuse he suffered as a teenager for nearly 30 years before starting counselling at RASASC. He said: “It was like a light that had been out for years was suddenly switched on again.

“I learned how to deal with the flashbacks I was still experiencing and started rebuilding my confidence and self-esteem.

“For the first time ever I started to look forward to the future and what it might hold. Maybe a steady job, or a serious relationship – these all seemed so far away before. Thank you RASASC.”

rasasconlyThe charity receives more than 2,000 calls to its helpline and provides more than 2,200 counselling sessions every year, but is still hoping to expand.

Despite increasing its counselling capacity dramatically in the past year, demand is so high that waiting times continue to rise – currently it stands at around four months. The ISVA team is also handling a significant caseload of around 200 clients at any given time.

Its priority is to secure sustainable funding for the coming years and RASASC hopes to expand even further to reach more survivors.

Further information on the services RASASC provides can be found at www.rasasc-guildford.org.

Debt Counselling Agency Says ‘Get Talking About Finances Early’

Money and relationships are famed for starting rows, but a local debt counselling agency is recommending Guildford residents get talking about finances early in 2016.

Christians Against Poverty says having “the money conversation” with a partner can be one of the hardest things to do but it is a move that can really change your year ahead.

Jane Seals, centre manager of the Guildford CAP branch, said: “I see people who have fallen into crisis debt every week and I can tell you it is crucial for your health and happiness in 2016 that you have a reality check of your finances as soon as you can in this new year.

CAP's Guildford centre manager Jane Seals.

CAP’s Guildford centre manager Jane Seals.

“It might be nerve wracking to bring those bank statements out into the open but until you both know what’s happening, you can’t start to tackle it. Working at your finances together, setting goals together and resolving to sort things can be an amazing step forward for the whole family.”

The Money Advice Service found in a poll of more than 2,000 UK adults that nearly half (45%) weren’t always honest with their partner about finances while a quarter were lying about spending.

Christians Against Poverty’s latest research shows three in four debt clients said their situation had caused arguments while nearly a quarter (23%) said debt directly led to their relationship breaking down – so the stakes are high.

CAP’s top tips for having “the money conversation” are:

  1. Pick your time when things are quiet at home and no one is dealing with any immediate stresses.
  2. Avoid the conversation when the children are around, your mum-in-law is visiting or a big bill has just landed.
  3. Agree that you want to make it a year when you get on top of finances together and that the money conversation isn’t about blaming anyone.
  4. Acknowledge that money management can be hard, especially when stressed, or if you’re on a low income. Mistakes may have been made but this is about looking forward.
  5. Remember your attitudes to money might be very different. Past experiences can shape these but you can play to each other’s strengths.
  6. Decide on a shared goal you want to aim for, like a day out, a holiday or a new car or just a “getting back in the black” celebration. This will happen twice as fast if you’re in it together.
  7. Use one of the many online tools – or book into one of the hundreds of free CAP Money Courses – to begin to build your budget.
  8. If you have debts, don’t delay in getting help from a free debt counselling agency like Christians Against Poverty, Stepchange, National Debtline, Citizens Advice, Payplan, the Money Advice Service or, if you’re self employed, Business Debtline.
  9. Make payday the day you review how it’s all going and make adjustments to the budget where necessary.
  10. Avoid credit wherever possible and begin to save as soon as you can, even if it is a small regular amount.

To find out more about CAP see capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006.

Notice: Volunteers Required For Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Helpline

The Guildford Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre provides a confidential helpline open to anyone affected by rape and sexual abuse, and receives over 2,000 calls every year.

rasasconlyThe next training course for new helpline volunteers will run in February through April.

For full details and to apply, visit www.rasasc-guildford.org or contact vivien@rasasc-guildford.org

The helpine is available for female and male callers, from Sunday to Friday evenings from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

RASASC says: “If you need any advice or emotional support or just need someone to listen sympathetically without making judgements. Please call us.

“If you are supporting a survivor and need to talk, we are here for you as well. Phone local 01483 546400 or national freephone 0800 0288 022.”

Surrey Charity Awarded Contract For Combined Visual And Hearing Services

Surrey County Council has awarded Sight for Surrey a single contract to provide sensory services for people who are visually impaired, deaf, deafened, hard of hearing and those who have combined hearing and sight loss.

Sight for ~SurreyThe new contract covers the whole of Surrey and starts in February. The organisation will continue to be based at its offices in Fetcham.

Bob Hughes, the chief executive of Sight for Surrey, said: “We are delighted that Surrey County Council has put their faith in Sight for Surrey to deliver this expanded range of specialist services.

“We have delivered Surrey’s Blind and DeafBlind services for more than 20 years and the communities can be confident that we will continue to deliver high-quality specialist services to all service users.

“The available statistics show that a growing number of people in Surrey will need specialist help with their vision or their hearing. We look forward to working with the communities to ensure that we deliver cost-effective services so that everyone who needs our services can receive them.”

Sight for Surrey will begin a programme of detailed consultation with service users in the new year to model and design services, and the new contact details will also be publicised in mid-January.

New President Of Age UK Surrey Is Honoured To Take Up The Post

The new president of Age UK Surrey is Lavinia Sealy, who is also one of the county’s deputy lieutenants.

The new president of Age UK Surrey, Lavinia Sealy.

The new president of Age UK Surrey, Lavinia Sealy.

She was a member of Surrey County Council for 16 years representing Bisley, West End, Lightwater and Chobham, where she is a resident, and was its chairman from May 2011 to 2013.

A former history and politics teacher, Mrs Sealy has been a governor of several mainstream and special schools, was a founder trustee of  the Community Foundation for Surrey, remaining a vice-president, and continues her commitment to the voluntary sector and education of every sort at Royal Holloway near Egham, the Lightbox in Woking, various schools and Guildford Cathedral.

Mrs Sealy said: “It’s a great honour to become president of Age UK Surrey. As an independent local charity they work very hard and effectively to provide services for older people across Surrey – to help them make the most out of life, remain independent, informed, healthy and active. The charity does vital work to help combat loneliness and social isolation.”

Age UK Surrey is an independent local charity. It work across Surrey to help improve the lives of older people aged 50-plus.

Its services are designed to enable people remain independent and informed, healthy and active and connected to their communities. It helps to combat loneliness and social isolation.

Services include: information and advice, advocacy, counselling, hometime, a computer drop-in Centre in Guildford, GO50, Tea and Chat in Tandridge, foot care in clinics across the county, Shopmobility in Guildford, and Men in Sheds in Ash.

Citizens Advice Says Be A Clever Christmas Consumer

Citizens Advice is reminding shoppers to make sure they know their rights when making their purchases this Christmas.

CAB 1It follows on from new legislation introduced in October.

Here are 10 consumer tips from Citizens Advice for a safe, stress-free holiday period.

1: Know your new consumer rights: The new Consumer Rights Act came into effect October 1. It’s worth understanding what your new consumer rights entitle you to before you buy, particularly if you are shopping for expensive items that you haven’t bought before. Visit Citizens advice know your new rights page for more information.

2: Be smart about your Christmas cards: Cards longer than 25cm, wider than 16.5cm, thicker than 5mm or heavier than 100g need a costlier large letter stamp. If you use the wrong stamp the recipient may have to pay a surcharge for incorrect postage. If sending cards in coloured envelopes, write the address on a white label.

3: Be careful buying from online sellers: If you’re buying from an individual seller on an online marketplace, many of your consumer rights don’t apply. Items should be as described, but a private individual has no legal duty to inform you of any faults or to offer a cancellation period. Read the product description and the seller’s return policy carefully.

4: The Consumer Rights Act states that terms and conditions must be prominent, so important terms hidden in the small print may not be compliant. Check for hidden extras or any additional costs in any credit agreement or contract. Check for information on delivering goods or missed deliveries of goods.

5: Prevent damage in transit with padded envelopes or bubble wrap. Send valuables with insured services like Royal Mail’s Special Delivery service so you can claim compensation if your item is lost or damaged. For more general items up to £20 request a free Certificate of Posting from the Post Office.

6: Second class post is more cost effective and has a better delivery record at Christmas – if you plan ahead second class is far more likely to be delivered in three working days than First Class is in one working day. If you have a specific issue with sending or receiving letters or parcels this Christmas find out how to sort out problems on Citizens Advice’s problems with post page.

7: The short term “right to reject” enables you to return goods to a trader within a 30-day period for a full refund if your core rights have been breached. The burden of proof will be on you to prove that the goods are not satisfactory, fit for purpose or as described.

8: You can return most goods that you order online for up to 14 days after you received them for a full refund. You’re allowed to handle and inspect what you’ve bought before returning, but the trader may deduct some money from your refund if you’ve used the product.

Most sellers give instructions on how to return items, and often include returns labels with your order. You usually have 14 days to return the item after telling the seller – check your terms and conditions for how long you have.

The seller has to refund the cost of standard delivery for the item. If you chose a more expensive delivery option, you’ll have to pay the difference.

You don’t have to return the item in its original packaging, but you do need to make sure it’s packaged in a way that means it doesn’t get damaged. Sellers can ask you to pay if something gets damaged because it wasn’t packaged properly or if you’ve reduced the value of the item.

9: The last Royal Mail posting dates for sending signed for items in time for Christmas are Saturday December, 19 second class and for Special Delivery Wednesday, December 23. Royal Mail will not be delivering or collecting post on Christmas Day, Saturday 26, Sunday 27 or Monday 28 December. To see a full list of last posting dates visit Royal Mail

10: The consumer service can advise on consumer problems or give pre-shopping advice to reduce risk. Phone 03454 040506, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, except bank holidays. You can also email queries through to its website.

There are two Citizens Advice bureaux in the borough of Guildford.

Guildford Citizens Advice, 15 to 21 Haydon Place GU1 4LL, is open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 4pm. Thursday from 10am to 6.30pm, and Saturday from 10am to noon.

Telephone: 01483 576699.

Website: www.guildfordcab.org.uk

Ash Citizens Advice, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre), offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Telephone: 01252 315569.

Website: www.ashcab.org.uk

Age UK Surrey Rewarded For Its Work With Elderly People

A successful computer drop-in centre in Guildford for elderly people and run by Age UK Surrey has been recognised and given an award.

In fact, it is one of three awards made to Age UK Surrey by Surrey County Council in its Living and Ageing Well Awards 2015.

The Technology, Making a Difference Award has been made to the computer drop-in centre that is based at Dray Court in Madrid Road, which provides sheltered housing for people aged over 60 and which is run by Guildford Borough Council.

Learning computer skills at the drop-in centre at Dray Court.

Learning computer skills at the drop-in centre at Dray Court.

From 10am to noon every day, a team of friendly, experienced volunteers are on hand to help improve people’s computer skills whether they be a complete beginner or someone with some computer knowledge. This is available to anyone over the age of 50.

They give guidance on how to find information on the internet, shopping online securely, sending and receiving emails, editing and manipulating photos, researching family history and will also advise on buying a computer or tablet, connecting to the internet and protecting a computer. Call 01483 452944, or send an email to: computerdropin@ageuksurrey.org.uk .

Catherine Jezierski receives her award from the chairman of Surrey County Council, Sally Marks.

Catherine Jezierski receives her award from the chairman of Surrey County Council, Sally Marks.

The People’s Choice Award for outstanding paid member of staff has been made to Age UK Surrey’s Catherine Jezierski. She works within its information and advice team and and has obtained £770,000 in annualised benefits and backdated amounts for her clients. Catherine is known to be always cheerful and works really hard for her clients who love her.

Karen Relf pictured with the chairman of Surrey County Council, Sally Marks.

Karen Relf pictured with the chairman of Surrey County Council, Sally Marks.

Another member of Age UK Surrey’s staff, Karen Relf, was highly commended for the Help at Home Award.

Age UK Surrey said: “Karen is a fabulous home help for our Hometime Service. She always shows empathy and compassion while providing a high quality service.”

A quote from one of Karen’s clients sums up her professionalism and caring nature: “Karen is a breath of fresh air. She is reliable, friendly, hard-working and nothing is too much trouble. I look forward to her visiting me every week.”

Another two of its services were shortlisted in the Living and Ageing Well Awards 2015. Its information and advice team for the Information and Advice Award, and its Tea & Chat in Tandridge project for the Bringing the Community Together Award.

The information and advice team have also been awarded AQS Information and Advice Quality Programme Certification, and between October 1 2014 and September 30 2015 obtained more than £3.5 million of annualised benefits for its clients.

Age UK Surrey knowns that combating loneliness and social isolation is vitally important and its Tea & Chat projet offers a truly convivial atmosphere and a place for older people who live in more rural areas to meet up, make friends and share a giggle and gossip.

Sue Zirps, the chief executive officer for Age UK Surrey, that has its offices in William Road, Guildford, said: “What fantastic projects and people we have in our organisation.

“I am so very proud and that includes all our staff and volunteers. It is testimony to all the work we do to help improve the lives of older people and to combat loneliness and social isolation. I believe everyone has the right to live and age well long past the tender age of 50.”

Click here for more details about services offered by Age UK Surrey, or telephone 01483 503414.

Carers Support Guildford Recruiting Person To Chair Trustees

Carers Support Guildford is a small, vibrant charity that provides information and advice to carers and parent and young carers living in the borough.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 11.53.56Its services are free and confidential.

Due to the retirement of the current post-holder the trustee board is looking for a new chair to be the strategic lead.

It is seeking someone with independent judgement and who will ensure that the trustee board meets its legal responsibilities.

You must also be a good communicator with excellent diplomacy skills and an understanding of the importance of carers in society.

You will be joining an experienced board and a committed and motivated staff team.

This is an unpaid position.

Carers Support Guildford would very much like to hear from anyone interested and initially will invite all interested parties to visit the charity to find out more about its services and the chair’s role.

Click here for website for more information.

In the first instance contact Karen Lewis, manager, on 01483 458123, or email: office@carersguildford.co.uk

Befriending Project Neighbourhood Angels Needs More Volunteers

A befriending scheme that helps older people and vulnerable adults who are isolated or lonely in Guildford is in need of more volunteers to help with the demand it is receiving.

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Can you spend some time befriending others?

Neighbourhood Angels is appealing for more people who would like to help by spending some time befriending others – simply by visiting them and chatting to them, or helping them to go out and do some shopping, or go with them to a local day centre.

The scheme aims to reduce dependency on health and social services by utilising volunteers and community services. It is already working very well and one person who benefitted from having someone to talk to said: “You really live up to your name.”

No specialist skills or experience are required to become a Neighbourhood Angel, just compassion and availability to give a few hours a week or a fortnight, on a flexible basis.

Care Angels leader Rachel Guilford is looking for people to can help out as volunteers, giving people in need a well-needed boost.

Care Angels leader Rachel Guilford (right) is looking for people to can help out as volunteers, giving people in need a well-needed boost. Picture by Eric Marsh.

Neighbourhood Angels co-ordinator Rachel Guilford, said: “The aim is that volunteers will sign up for a set number of months to make sure there is continuity with those they are befriending.”

The needs of those referred to Neighbourhood Angels varies. It matches up volunteers and their life skills to those who need help. A match may be arranged if the person in need has a specific interest, or it could be of a similar age, and so on.

Needs and circumstances of those who have been helped include: bereavement, visual impairment, carers, aphasia (word-finding difficulties), depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, MS, and poor mobility.

Following a recent bereavement, one lady being visited said she would describe her experience as ‘desolate’, rather than lonely. The project aims to encourage individuals to build meaningful activities and relationships into their lives.

As a result of support from a ‘neighbourhood angel’, some people have started going to day centres, U3A groups, a job forum and local walks.

It has also linked people with meals on wheels, adult social care, the MS Society and Sight for Surrey, for more specific support.

No specialist skills or experience are required to become a Neighbourhood Angel.

No specialist skills or experience are required to become a Neighbourhood Angel.

Volunteers who become Neighbourhood Angels will receive guidance on listening skills, training on safeguarding and advice on helping people reconnect with their communities.

Contact Rachel Guilford on 07796 098077. Or email her at rachel.guilford@cofeguildford.org.uk

Neighbourhood Angels is being facilitated by the Diocese of Guildford’s Community Engagement Team and is funded by Guildford Borough Council.

Future Is Uncertain For Furniturelink Unless New Premises Can Be Found Soon

Furniturelink Guildford – the social enterprise project that recycles, refurbishes and reuses good quality, pre-owned donated furniture – is in danger of closing unless it can find new premises.

The lease on its current showroom at the Cathedral Hill business park expires in March 2016 and will not be renewed.

The chief executive of Furniturelink Guildford, Neil Mason, and operations manager Wendy Watson.

The chief executive of Furniturelink Guildford, Neil Mason, and operations manager Wendy Watson.

Chief executive Neil Mason has been searching for suitable new premises in the Guildford area, but has drawn a blank.

He said: “It’s proving really difficult to find somewhere we can relocate to. There just doesn’t seem to be anything around and at a lease we can afford.

“I’m hoping that by making this appeal someone will come forward and help us, or make a suggestion if they know of somewhere. It doesn’t have to be in Guildford. It could be in a surrounding area, as we serve wider than just Guildford too. We need between 3,000 and 6,000 square feet of space.”

Twice nominated for the Social Enterprise of the Year award, Furniturelink is helping an average of 3,500 families a year by providing affordable pre-owned furniture and white goods.

It provides more than 5,000 hours of back-to-work volunteering opportunities for people and diverts about 95,000 kilos of material from landfill each year.

The concept of Furniturelink works extremely well. It is a project that now breaks even and is less reliant on grants. Neil and his team (there are nine staff on the payroll and about seven volunteers at any one time) have worked extremely hard to reach this position.

Neil Mason from Furniturelink Guildford needs to find new premises for the successful social enterprise scheme.

Neil Mason from Furniturelink Guildford that needs to find new premises for its successful social enterprise scheme.

Neil added: “I don’t know what the future will hold if we can’t find anywhere else to go next year. We really do help a lot of people on low incomes and support those who come to us as volunteers.

“Many of those we help are introductions from Guildford Borough Council, who signpost tenants who need some furniture. The council has been very supportive to us and has helped with grants, and so on.”

Furniturelink also offers house clearances and a small removals service. And it has recently set up a project called Would Work in conjunction with Surrey Choices at the Lockwood Centre in Slyfield.

Used furniture that can’t be re-sold but is far too good for landfill is now being transformed by people at Lockwood. They are making a host of items including birdboxes, planters and keyrings, etc.

Anyone who can help Furniturelink in its appeal to find new premises can call Neil Mason on 07735 530379. Email: n.mason.furniturelink@gmail.com

Furniturelink Guildford is at Unit 4, Deaconsfield, Cathedral Hill, Guildford, GU2 8YT. Open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm Saturdays.

General enquiries on 1483 506504 or 07917 148940.

The current showroom at Unit 4

The current showroom at Unit 4 Deaconsfield, Cathedral Hill, Guildford.

Catalyst Presented With Queen’s Award For Voluntary Service

The drug, alcohol and mental health charity Catalyst, that has its base in Guildford, has been presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux presents the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service to Catalyst.

The Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux, presents the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to Catalyst.

The presentation was made by the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux at The Lightbox in Woking.

Volunteers, staff, trustees and guests, including the Mayor of Woking, Derek McCrum, from partner organisations were present at the reception which was also an opportunity to celebrate funding for its Reach Out counselling from The Big Lottery Reaching Communities programme, with a large cheque for £497,050.

The Big Lottery cheque for £497,050 to help fund its

The Big Lottery cheque for £497,050 to help fund its Reach Out counselling programme.

Catalyst was nominated for the award by a client who experienced counselling support provided by the organisation which has worked throughout Surrey over 30 years, delivering a range of drug and alcohol support work and activities for people with a range of mental health needs, which are also supported by volunteers.

She put Catalyst forward because of its work transforming the lives of those who suffer from mental ill- health, drug and alcohol misuse or homelessness.

Through its exceptional counselling services and programmes such as The Welcome Project, she has seen first hand how lives have been transformed.

The Lord Lieutenant spoke about the positive contribution made by Catlayst’s volunteers in providing much needed support.

Catalyst’s chief executive Haydn Morris said: ”We are delighted to have received the award, especially as it is recognition from those we benefit. Big Lottery funding will enable us to meet the increasing demand for counselling support.”

Citizens Advice Says Shop Around To Save On Energy Bills

Guildford Citizens Advice is calling on people to shop around and, if need be, switch their energy supplier to get a better deal and adopt energy saving tips to save money off their bill.

The local charity is part of Big Energy Saving Week – a joint campaign with Energy Saving Trust, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Citizens Advice.

CAB 1Guildford Citizens Advice is aware of the problems some people have with their money because of the high cost of energy and has several tips about debt and affordable warmth advice to help people struggling as winter starts to bite.

Joan O’Byrne, manager at Guildford Citizens Advice, said:

  • If you’re struggling to pay your gas and electricity bills, contact your supplier to discuss your options to pay what you owe them. They have to help you come to a solution.
  • You should try to negotiate a deal that works for both of you. Suggest a repayment plan that will allow you to repay your debts in instalments that you can afford.
  • If you’re struggling to make repayments, let the supplier know as soon as possible.
  • It’s also worth seeking advice to help you work out if there might be extra help available to help you afford your energy bills.
  • If you don’t try to solve the problem with your supplier, they might threaten to disconnect your supply. They can do this unless you are elderly or vulnerable and it is winter.

Citizens Advice also says if you privately rent or own your own home, you could get help with heating and insulation measures to make your home warmer and more energy efficient through the Affordable Warmth scheme. If you are receiving the appropriate benefits you may be considered for help. You may also need a survey of your home to see if you qualify. Call the Energy Saving Advice Service (ESAS) on 0300 123 1234 to find out more.

A number of myths that have grown up about whether you can switch energy supplier or not. Guildford Citizens Advice has some answers:

MYTH: Households cannot change energy supplier if they have a pre-payment meter.

FALSE If you have a prepayment meter, you’ll be able to switch supplier unless you owe your supplier more than £500 for gas or electricity.

MYTH: If you rent and are responsible for paying the bills, your require your landlord’s permission before you can change energy supplier.

FALSE: You have the right to switch supplier if you pay your energy supplier directly for your bills. You should check your tenancy agreement to see if the landlord has a ‘preferred supplier’. This won’t stop you from switching supplier, but you should tell your landlord or letting agent. You may have to return the account to the original supplier at the end of your tenancy.

MYTH: If you move house, you need to use the existing supplier which is serving the new property.

FALSE: While you’ll be automatically put onto a ‘deemed contract’ with the existing supplier of the property, there’s nothing to stop you switching. The deemed contract will normally be one of the most expensive tariffs available, so you should look for a better deal with the existing supplier or a find a new supplier as soon as you move in. You can only change suppliers from the day you become responsible for the property. Switching will normally take about 21 days, so you’ll have to pay at least one bill with the existing supplier.

MYTH: If a household changes energy supplier, it must change both gas and electricity to the new supplier.

FALSE: Consumers can choose to have gas and electricity supplied by different companies or by the same supplier, which is called ‘dual fuel’. It’s up to consumers to choose the right tariff(s) for them, whether that’s a flexible tariff, the cheapest tariff or an environmentally friendly tariff.

MYTH: Households may be disconnected for a short period while changing energy supplier.

FALSE: There should be no break in supply when there is a change of supplier.

MYTH: When households switch energy supplier, the meter will need to be changed.

FALSE:  It’s just the supplier and tariff that change when a household switches energy supplier.

MYTH: When households switch energy supplier, pipes/cables supplying the house will need to be changed.

FALSE: It’s just the supplier and tariff that change when a household switches energy supplier.

MYTH: Households on pre-payment meters cannot change energy supplier if they are in some debt to their current supplier.

FALSE: If you’ve owed money for more than 28 days, you can switch supplier but your debt must be below £500 for gas and £500 for electricity. If you haven’t owed the money for 28 days yet, you’ll have to wait for this time to pass. You’ll need to ask the new supplier to agree to transfer your debt along with your supply (this is called the ‘Debt Assignment Protocol’).

MYTH: The ‘Big 6’ energy suppliers offer the best deals – smaller suppliers are more expensive (the Big 6 energy suppliers are: E.ON, Npower, British Gas, SSE, EDF Energy and Scottish Power).

FALSE: It’s best to shop around to find the best deal. You can use an accredited price comparison website to compare prices from different energy suppliers.

MYTH: A household cannot change energy supplier if the current supplier has installed a smart meter in the property.

FALSE: You can switch, but it’s possible that you’ll lose some of the smart meter functionality. For example, you may have to start submitting meter readings again. This would stop once the supplier you move to introduces smart meters to their customers. If it’s important to you, you should check with the new supplier to make sure they currently offer smart meters before you switch. Suppliers can’t refuse to supply you because you have a smart meter.

Christine Parrott, social policy and impact manager at Guildford Citizens Advice said: “Switching myths mean people are missing out on saving money on their energy bills.

“By shopping around and switching to a different energy deal consumers can cut hundreds of pounds from their gas and electricity bills. Whether you own your home or rent it, and regardless of whether you have a prepayment meter, there are savings to be made.

“The process of shopping around and switching is fairly straightforward but some people might be unsure about how to find the best tariff. Others might be put off by common myths about switching.

“That’s why we’re running Big Energy Saving Week in Guildford to help people find the cheapest deal before temperatures really start to drop. Help and information is available online and over the phone.”

Big Energy Saving Week is a national campaign to help people cut their fuel bills and get all the financial support they are entitled to. The campaign provides advice to people over the telephone through the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234, or face-to-face at hundreds of events being held across Britain.

For advice about switching and to find the best energy deal visit BeAnEnergyShopper.com  For advice and tips on how to save money on your energy bill  call the Energy Saving Advice service on 0300 123 1234.

Citizens Advice Sessions In GP Surgeries To Continue

The CAB’s advice sessions in four Guildford GP surgeries will continue until the end of January thanks to funding from the local Poyle Charities.

CAB 1The sessions hosted by Guildford Citizens Advice were due to finish at the end of September. Now the pilot scheme will run for another four months.

Trained advisers can to help people with a wide range of topics from problems with debt, housing, welfare benefits and other legal matters.

The scheme to offer advice sessions in GP surgeries is both popular and well used in other parts of the UK.

It is a service of benefit to those who can’t always get to a Citizens Advice bureau to access information, or who are not connected to the internet where CAB advice is also freely available.

The advice given at the surgery sessions is free and confidential.

All clients are seen by appointment only. Appointments at Dapdune House surgery are available to anyone, whether registered to that practice or not.

Times of the advice sessions are as follows:

Merrow Park Surgery, Kingfisher Drive: Mondays, 9.30am to 12.30pm.

The Oaks, Applegarth Avenue, Park Barn: Tuesdays, 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

Dapdune House Surgery, Wharf Road: Wednesdays, 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

Stoughton Road  Surgery: Thursdays, 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

Concerns That The Most Vulnerable Won’t Cope With Universal Credit Welfare Reform

Universal Credit, a new type of benefit designed to support people who are on a low income or out of work, will result in a huge change of circumstance for many when it is introduced in Guildford in February 2016.

This was the message heard by delegates at a conference held at St Saviour’s Church, Guildford, on Friday, September 18, and attended by around 100 people from local organisations, most of whom work with people who may be affected by the Government’s welfare reforms.

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Guildford Borough Council’s money advisor Mark Beasley speaks at the conference, with fellow speaker on Universal Credit, Maria Zealey from Surrey Welfare Rights Unit, seated.

Universal Credit will replace six existing benefits and is currently being rolled out across the UK. The new system is based on a single monthly payment, transferred directly into a bank account. At present it only affects newly unemployed people in certain areas of the country.

The conference, Enhancing Practice, Understanding Poverty: A Guildford Perspective, was hosted by Guildford Advice Services. 

Among the speakers was Guildford Borough Council’s money advisor, Mark Beasley. Explaining the new system, he said the Government aims to make work pay for people, to simplify the system for benefits claimants, to create a centralised digital system and to help people into work.

Mr Beasley added that for tenants in council homes who claim housing benefit it will be paid to them and not direct to the council. They will then pay their own bills.. Payment will be paid in arrears of one month and seven days.

For some, who may not have a current bank account or who have difficulty in budgeting their finances, it will mean having to learn new skills, such as setting up direct debits, standing orders and so on.

It was also highlighted that the digital-only service means claimants will only be able to fill in forms on line, with paper forms no longer being used. At present, the on-line form filling can only be completed in a single 45-minute session. It will not be possible to ‘save changes made’ and return to it at a later time to complete.

Mr Beasley said Guildford Borough Council is preparing for the changes Universal Credit will bring and will support people by offering advice by phone, on-line, and at one-to-one or group budgeting sessions for tenants. He said that he has already spoken to 2,000 council tenants about it.

Some of the delegates at the conference that was held at St Saviour's Church.

Some of the delegates at the conference that was held at St Saviour’s Church.

The conference heard comments from delegates who said they are already worried how the people they work with and help will cope. Points raised included: those claimants without internet access, or only via a mobile phone, unable to get to a library or such place where there is free internet access.

Also speaking on the subject was the unit manager at Surrey Welfare Rights Unit (a specialist Citizens Advice Bureau), Maria Zealey. She is also concerned about the digital-only system being introduced and pointed out that if a claimant’s situation changes they will have to again go on line each time to update their information and may face a £50 penalty for not doing so.

There followed group workshops where delegates discussed the introduction of Universal Credit and the challenges they may face in their organisations in helping their clients. Most agreed that the most vulnerable will be at risk of not being able to cope with the changes.

During the morning of the conference there had been a number of speakers who covered topics including understanding their clients, impacts of change, and signposting of information between each other and to clients. See separate story.

 Guildford Borough Council's head of housing advice Kim Rippett.

Guildford Borough Council’s head of housing advice Kim Rippett.

The final speaker at the conference was Guildford Borough Council’s head of housing advice Kim Rippett, its joint lead for welfare reform with Steve White. She said: “It is important to make organisations and volunteers aware of the changes being brought about by Universal Credit.

“Don’t panic. It is being rolled out gradually and lessons are being learned from where it is going live.”

She added that the council will have partnerships with the Department of Work and Pensions to give people support and said the council will work with organisation such as Guildford Citizens Advice, Christians Against Poverty, and Catalyst [that works with people suffering distress through the use of drugs or drink or who are suffering mental health problems especially wellbeing problems] to make sure they are equipped to help their clients.

Referring to those likely to be affected by the welfare reforms, she said: “You can tell people about the changes too soon. It is about getting the timing right, but agencies need to be ready.”

What are your views on the Universal Credit welfare reforms and how it will affect those who claim benefits? Please leave a reply in the box below.

Conference Focuses Ways Organisations And Individuals Can Help Those Less Well Off

Organisations and individuals who work and help people on low incomes came together for a conference that focused on poverty within the borough of Guildford.

With the topic of the Government’s welfare reform and the introduction of Universal Credit as the new system for those claiming benefits being the main focus, see separate story, there was a good deal of information given by advice, support and voluntary organisations.

Haydn Morris of Catalyst holds a new free leaflet produced by Guildford Advice Services that lists details of lots of local advice services, organisations and agencies.

Haydn Morris of Catalyst holds a new free leaflet produced by Guildford Advice Services that lists details of lots of local advice organisations and agencies.

Enhancing Practice, Understanding Poverty: A Guildford Perspective, was hosted by Guildford Advice Services.  It took place on Friday, September 18, at St Saviour’s Church in Guildford,

The Mayor of Guildford, Nikki Nelson-Smith, made a welcome speech and Haydn Morris of Catalyst introduced the day by saying that [in the UK] 23% of benefits are not taken up, 50% of jobseekers allowances are not claimed nor are 80% of housing benefits.

He asked why and said there are a number of reasons: stigma, people do not want to be labelled in poverty or are regarded as scroungers, the process of claiming can be complicated and many do not know they are eligible for benefits.

“Systems are designed,” Haydn said, “but people make systems work. This conference will help people to network and I know a lot of agencies are represented here today.”

They included the Diocese of Guildford, Guildford Borough Council, Homestart, Surrey Law Centre, Furniturelink Guildford, Guildford Citizens Advice, Surrey County Council, North Guildford Foodbank, Voluntary Action South West Surrey, Age UK Surrey and Catalyst, plus representatives from local churches and community groups.

Denise Graves (standing) and Jess Hogan-Smith of Voluntary Action South West Surrey.

Denise Graves (standing) and Jess Hogan-Smith of Voluntary Action South West Surrey.

A talk titled Understanding Those We Support was given by Jess Hogan-Smith of Voluntary Action South West Surrey. She outlined details within the Equal Opportunities Act 2010. The volunteer bureau and services it offers tries hard to continually learn and to keep its training and awareness up to date in terms of issues that affect people, whether it’s because of their health, their income or family circumstances.

Denise Graves, also of Voluntary Action South West Surrey, spoke about her role with its Welcome to Volunteering project, that assists people aged 18 to 65 who need help to get into volunteering. She emphasised the need to always have good listening skills when working with clients.

In her talk, the manager of Guildford Citizens Advice, Joan O’Byrne, urged people to be at the top of their game when helping people who are not on top of their finances, especially when their circumstances have changed.

She said the Guildford bureau is helping people, but said many of the clients they see have difficulties understanding the digital world. She said: “The information that have to record must be up to date and some get confused.”

Jo Cookes and Nicola Bassani of the Diocese of Guildford's communities engagement team.

Jo Cookes and Nicola Bassani of the Diocese of Guildford’s communities engagement team.

Jo Cookes and Nicola Bassani of the Diocese of Guildford’s community engagement team focused on signposting in their talk. The spoke about the need to tell people what support is available locally and where to find it and what opportunities are available.

They also stressed the importance of talking and listening to people and not taking them at face value. An example they gave was from their team’s Community Connectors scheme. A person may ask for them to help with their shopping. But simply talking to them further much more can be found about their needs and hopefully extra help can be given. This may include setting up a care package, or if they say they are lonely some company and support can be arranged.

Nicola gave examples of services delegates can use to find information and then signpost where necessary. These included Surrey Information Point, Voluntary Action South West Surrey, Guildford Hub, Adult Social Care, and Guildford Borough Council’s community wardens.

She added that local points of contact include churches, community centres, notice boards and Guildford Advice Services. 

Joan O'Byrne, manager of Guildford Citizens Advice.

Joan O’Byrne, manager of Guildford Citizens Advice.

Joan O’Byrne spoke again, this time about Citizens Advice Bureau’s national website that can accessed by all and which contains lots of useful advice and information. She said it can be very useful for delegates in their work and it contains much information on people’s rights, benefits, tax, and so on.

With a wi fi link to the website being shown on the large display screen, Joan gave examples of how easy it is to access and use. She added that factsheets can be downloaded and it also has links to other websites such as HM Revenue & Customs, or how to contact your local advice bureau direct.

From left: John O'Byrne and Hadyn Morris with Sally Taylorson of Guildford Advice Services who was the main organiser of the conference. Well done to them all!

From left: John O’Byrne and Hadyn Morris with Sally Taylorson of Guildford Advice Services who was the main organiser of the conference. Well done to them all!

For more details about Guildford Advice Services (GAS), its partners and network organisations, you can access a wealth of information via The Guildford Dragon NEWS. Click on the tab under the main page heading named Get Advice in Guildford. All the news stories we feature about GAS and its associates are archived in a tab What’s New that can be found by placing your computer mouse, or finger on a smartphone or tablet, over Get Advice in Guildford.

Book A Free Pension Wise Appointment At Guildford Citizens Advice

Guildford Citizens Advice is encouraging people aged 50 and over, who have a defined contribution pension pot, to book a free Pension Wise appointment.

CAB 1Recent research from national Citizens Advice confirms that people aren’t thinking about their pension options in isolation.

One in four people who have had a face-to-face Pension Wise appointment delivered by Citizens Advice England and Wales went on to book a Citizens Advice appointment for help on wider financial issues including:

● Benefits and tax credits (42%).

● Financial capability including help managing money  (29%).

● Debt (14%).

● Employment  (4%).

Christine Parrott, social policy and impact manager, at Guildford Citizens Advice said: “Naturally, when people start to think about what to do with their pension it can prompt them to consider other aspects of their finances too. For example, they often consider how the choices they make might affect the tax they pay, or any debt they may have.

“A Pension Wise appointment can help make some of these things clearer, and signposts people to other useful relevant sources of information. At Guildford Citizens Advice we can help people make sense of the pensions world, and signpost them to any extra guidance they may need to help make their decision easier.

“We encourage those aged 50 and over, who have a defined contribution pension pot, to come along and visit us this Pension Awareness Day and book a free Pension Wise appointment.”

To book a Pension Wise appointment, you can visit Guildford Citizens Advice or call 0300 330 1001.

The appointments follow inn the wake of nation Pensions Awareness Day that was on Tuesday, September 15.

Helping The Hard Of Hearing And Making Others Aware Of Those With Sight Loss

By David Rose

Tracey Wade has a busy role co-ordinating a scheme that helps people get the best from their hearing aids via a network of volunteers, setting up lip-reading courses and providing training so people can better understand others with impaired vision.

She is the sensory inclusion advisor for the Diocese of Guildford within its Communities Engagement Team. A team that is quietly working on various projects that help people in a number of ways while strengthening communities in the process.

Tracey Wade in

Tracey Wade is the sensory inclusion advisor for the Diocese of Guildford within its Communities Engagement Team. Items pictured include replacement batteries for hearing aids, tools for the maintenance of them, and various glasses and goggles used in her work explaining the difficulties people have who are visually impaired.

The Hear Here scheme Tracey heads up has been a great success and continues to expand, probably because it is very simple.

Volunteer hearing champions are recruited, usually through their churches, and, after training, give free advice to people to ensure their hearing aids are in working order.

They have a supply of replacement batteries and they can also undertake maintenance and cleaning of hearing aids.

Tracey explains: “I took on the role in November 2011. There had previously been a chaplain who worked with people who were hard of hearing.

“ I spent 12 months networking to see what support there was people with a hearing loss within the Diocese of Guildford.

“I attended a hard of hearing forum hosted by Surrey Coalition of Disabled People, which looked at ways of improving statuary services. Areas that were identified included there being a lack of aftercare to patients by audiology departments at local hospitals.

“I met with health personnel linked with community services, attended patients’ panel groups and noticed that there was frustration among some patients over the aftercare service.”

Following a community meeting with Epsom and St Helier hospital audiology team Tracey considered how the church could help with the audiology’s request for support from the wider community.

To the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford she pitched the idea of a network of volunteers who would assist with hearing aid aftercare, not at a hospital, but in the parishes and their communities.

The hospital liked the suggesting and the Hear Here project was the result.

The project’s hearing champion volunteers are trained in all aspects of giving advice and help to people with hearing aids, from changing batteries and care of the plastic tubes.

Churches support their Hearing Champions who go about their work in a number of ways. It could be advising people after the regular Sunday service, at lunch clubs and also during home visits.

Some volunteers have set up regular sessions where people can drop in to collect replacement batteries for behind-the-ear NHS hearing aids, new tubes, or have them cleaned.

Volunteers also give advice and help so that the hearing aids are worn correctly.

These hearing champions are given the freedom to offer advice to others at times and in ways that suits them. They may like to hold coffee mornings, simple drop-in clinics  – a set time that visitors can pop in to pick up batteries and/or have their hearing aids re-tubed.

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A network of volunteers assist with hearing aid aftercare.

Tracey adds: “Some of our parishes got the idea and benefits of the scheme very quickly, realising it is more than simply supplying batteries for hearing aids. They know that the help and advice goes a long way not only for people’s wellbeing, but satisfaction for the volunteer and for building community relations.

“Residents who live in isolated places have found the service invaluable. At Normandy, the service is offered at a Saturday market that is held there. There are tea and cakes to enjoy and a lovely social atmosphere.

“The vicar was pleased to see people getting to know one another much more.”

A monthly café held at the village hall in Rowledge was identified by the hearing champions there, who operate in a rural community, as an ideal place to deliver the service from. The refreshments sold there means that it is self funding too.

Tracey says that a card of aid batteries usually last a couple of months. It is known that some people, if they can’t get replacements easily, may stop using their hearing aid, put it in a drawer and forget about it. Going to a social events keeps them in touch and hopefully means their hearing aid is always in working order.

The national charity Action On Hearing Loss offers a similar service across the country, but has no presence in Surrey.

Have you heard about the hearing champions and the Hear Here service?

Have you heard about the hearing champions and the Hear Here service?

The Guildford diocese’s communities engagement team has also secured funding to offer lipreading classes across Surrey in conjunction with Surrey Adult Learning.

Tracey explains that lipreading is a vital communication skill for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and can help tackle isolation.

It is widely recognised that lipreading can help people of all ages, with any degree of hearing loss, to communicate better.

Although you cannot learn to lipread everything, classes give people the tools and awareness to develop their skills. They will improve confidence and it is a great way to do something positive and practical about hearing loss.

The first classes are taking place in Englefield Green in the John Monsell Room at St Jude’s church on the morning of October 2. The Guildford Diocese is fairly wide ranging!

It is hoped that classes will also be taking place at a venue in Godalming, with classes in Banstead already organised.

Lipreading classes are very informal and friendly and are taught by a qualified teacher of lipreading to adults. It’s not like going back to school; those attending can go at their own pace in a relaxed adult atmosphere.

Helping people with sight loss is an area currently untapped by the communities engagement team, but they are well on the way to helping people.

Tracey has completed one module of a total of six that will result in a foundation degree in rehabilitation for the visually impaired.

She already has the skills to train others to assist people by being a sighting guide.

Training has been given to some of the staff at Diocesan House in Quarry Street, Guildford, to understand the difficulties people suffer in their daily lives from sight loss.

Tracey says: “Advice can be passed to others about diet, encouraging people to have regular eye checks and the awareness of workshops on the subject that I will be hosted in local parishes.

“A session in MIlford included the technique of the three As – Ask, Approach and Assist. Those attending the workshop were asked to always consider those first when meeting or helping someone with sight loss. They understood the concept straight away and are now putting that into practice.”

Another piece of good training for people is teaching them to identify whether those with failing eye sight are withdrawing from what had once been normal activities. Checking to see whether they have been losing confidence in being able to negotiate their local environment and so on, and if so, offer them help.

There is certainly a lot for Tracey to do. And the more ‘champions’ that can be recruited, the more advice and help can be offered to communities throughout a large part of Surrey and parts of north-east Hampshire.

For more details about her work, contact Tracey Wade on 01483 790327. 

Mobile: 07531 268476.

Email: Tracey.Wade@cofeguildford.org.uk

Dragon Interview: Laura Tufnail, Helping Older People To Share Their Skills

Volunteer Connections, a free service that helps older people find the right volunteering opportunities, has been relaunched in Guildford. Reporter Anna Valentina talks to its co-ordinator Laura Tufnail, of Voluntary Action South West Surrey

Sometimes people need just a bit of support to help them try something new. A few reassuring words or a little assistance can be enough.

A good example is volunteering their time and services. If they have never volunteered before or would like to switch their efforts to something different, the decision-making might be not easy.

Laura Tufnail, the co-ordinator of Volunteer Connectors, a service managed by Voluntary Action South West Surrey.

Laura Tufnail, the co-ordinator of Volunteer Connectors, a service managed by Voluntary Action South West Surrey.

They might be unsure of what to do, not confident with public transport, have some health problems, unable to access information on where the help is needed. Or there may be other not so very obvious barriers to volunteering.

That is exactly what Volunteer Connections can help with. Problems can be identified and support and guidance given to help people overcome those barriers.

The project used to be called Community Connectors and the name change reflects the emphasis on supporting older people to take up volunteering.

Project co-ordinator Laura Tufnail said: “Volunteering is a great way for older people to continue to stay active, share their extensive expertise, experience and skills and continue to feel of value to their communities.

“It also reduces what is often described as an epidemic of loneliness in later life.

“It’s a fact, older volunteers have an amazing amount to offer and that this project will enable them to do this.”

“There are other projects in Guildford which connect people in need, such as Neighbourhood Angels, so we have decided to cover all volunteering possibilities to provide more options to those elderly people who are ready to give a helping hand.”

 

According to Laura, as the project has just started, the word needs to be spread to let people know all about it.

Leaflets are being distributed through GP surgeries, churches and local community groups. She is expecting a surge of volunteers when people come back from their holidays and when groups which had been closed for the summer reopen.

Sometimes it is hard to imagine how unexpected and not at all obvious a volunteering role can be.

Laura said: “I know a gentlemen who helps others to change batteries in hearing aids. He does it every week in one of the local churches, for free.

“Another lady goes to a children’s centre to welcome mothers with toddlers.

“I approached the Tea and Memories group, based at Surrey Choices within the Lockwood Centre in Slyfield, to see if they would be interested in doing a micro-volunteering project.  Together we discussed one particular project which involves writing cards or notes to sick and terminally ill children in the UK.

“That sort of micro-volunteering opportunity may not be listed on Voluntary Action’s website, but we know about it and through our work we hope to find people who may like to be involved, matching their interests and abilities.”

Laura and her colleagues believe that the most important things for volunteers is to enjoy what they do, and maybe share their passion with others.

It could be looking at books or art, photography or animals, music or teaching.

Laura added: “If it is done with kindness, even a short word or a small gesture might bring a huge change to other people’s lives. And when it happens it just charges you with enthusiasm.

“If you or someone you know would like to become a volunteer please get in touch with me. And we also need what we call volunteer connectors to support our clients to find the right volunteering roles for them.”

Call Laura Tufnail at Voluntary Action South West Surrey on 01483 504626, or 07827 958018.

Email: L.Tufnail@vasws.org.uk

Volunteer Connections has been funded by Guildford Poyle Charities and Guildford Borough Council.

Could You Listen When Someone Needs To Be Heard?

The Guildford Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) is recruiting for new volunteers to join its helpline volunteer team.

rasasconlyEvery year, RASASC answers more than 2,000 calls to its helpline. The helpline is open to anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse, and its female volunteers are trained to listen, support and allow the caller time to talk.

As increasing numbers of people come forward to seek RASASC’s support, volunteers play a crucial role, as Vivien, RASASC’s events and volunteer co-ordinator, explained: “We would not be able to run the level of service that we do without our team of wonderful volunteers,” she said.

“Full training and supervision is provided, so there is no need to be an expert in this field already.

“All we ask is that you are caring, non-judgemental and committed to making a difference.”

The next training course will run throughout October to December on Thursday evenings and three Sundays. It will equip the volunteers with the necessary skills to provide this valuable listening service.

One helpline volunteer described her experiences: “Joining RASASC was stepping into unknown territory. The instant I entered into the training I realised how lucky we helpline volunteers are.

“The training was excellent, and my peer group consisted of people of various ages and experiences. After several years on the Helpline, I realise how essential the line is to callers.”

If you can spare three evenings per month, you will find a detailed role description, application form and further information on becoming a helpline volunteer at www.rasasc-guildford.org or email vivien@rasasc-guildford.org.

The RASASC helpline is open Sunday to Friday (every night except Saturdays and bank holidays), from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Call 01483 546400 or 0800 0288 022.

Drug And Alcohol Abuse Charity Receives £492k Lottery Grant

A Guildford-based charity that helps people with drug, alcohol and mental health issues has received a grant of £492,000 from the Big Lottery fund.

CatalystIt means that Catalyst will continue to providing counselling for its clients as well as supporting affected family and friends.

Its Reach Out project has been running for four years with Big Lottery support and the trained volunteer counsellors and group facilitators have worked with hundreds of people to help them and their friends and families.

Up to 5,000 hours of counselling is offered every year throughout Surrey.

The deputy CEO at Catalyst, Sue Murphy, said: “We are delighted that the Big Lottery has recognised the difference that counselling can make and have funded us again.

“Often people who use substances are dealing with traumatic events in their lives and counselling can help people gain the skills needed to find other ways to deal with difficulties. Working together helps people tackle their problems and builds stronger communities.”

Catalyst was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June for the work of its volunteer counsellors.

More information at www.catalystsupport.org.uk

Ash CAB In Need Of Volunteer Advisors

Ash Citizens Advice Bureau is in need of volunteer advisers and is starting a new adviser training course at the end of September.

CAB 1Centre manager Vicky Payne says: “Unfortunately, the bureau has lost six advisors in the last nine months. Three have needed to take on full-time paid employment, two have retired after long service, one sadly died recently very suddenly and another is on long term sick leave.

“We are looking to train about six people. It takes around six months and nearly all the training takes place in the bureau apart from a three-day training course in Guildford.

“We are a small friendly team and once we get people they stay a long time. It’s a very interesting role and the main qualities we are looking for in an individual are good listening skills and a non judgemental attitude because people often come to us with quite complex problems and we need to roll up our sleeves and try to help them find the best way forward.

“Sometimes we will see them many times until the issues are resolved. We help out clients by looking at different options available to them and finding the appropriate information and help that they need.” 

Purpose of the role 

  • To help provide an effective and efficient advice service to members of the public.
  • To help influence government and other organisations by informing them of the effect of their actions on the lives of clients.

Main duties and responsibilities may include: 

  • Interviewing clients, both face-to-face and on the telephone, letting the client explain their enquiry and helping the client to set priorities.
  • Finding, interpreting and communicating the relevant information and exploring options and implications in order that the client can come to a decision.
  • Acting, where necessary, on behalf of the client, negotiating, drafting or writing letters or making appropriate referrals.
  • Completing clear and accurate case records.
  • Recognising the root causes of problems and participating in taking appropriate action.
  • Keeping up to date on important issues by attending the appropriate training and by essential reading.
  • Attending bureau meetings.

Personal skills and qualities that an adviser needs: 

    • A commitment to the aims and principles of the CAB service.
    • Excellent communication skills, including being a good listener.
    • Being open and approachable.
    • Ability to communicate clearly both orally and in writing.
    • Ability to sift through information and extract what is relevant.
    • Basic mathematical skills, including percentages.
    • Respect for views, values and cultures that are different to their own.
    • An understanding of why confidentiality is important.
    • Being open to using computers on a regular basis.
    • A positive attitude to self-development and assessment.
    • Ability to work as part of a team.
    • Ability to recognise their own limits and boundaries in the role

If you would like to apply or would like more details, contact Ash Citizens Advice Bureau on 01252 315569.

Residents who live in the Ash area of Guildford borough can contact Ash CAB, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre).

It offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Citizens Advice Guildford Helps Residents To Combat Scams

Guildford’s Citizens Advice Bureau helped tackle seven cases last year where local people had been targeted by scams and conmen, according to new figures just released.

The numbers have been released as part of July’s Scams Awareness Month, highlighting how scams can flourish if they go unreported.

CAB 1With only 5% of people who have been scammed reporting it to the authorities, the figures are thought to be a fraction of the total number of scams targeting people in the local area.

The campaign, supported by Trading Standards, is urging people to get advice if they think they’ve been conned, and warn others to help stop scams from spreading.

Analysis of more than 20,000 scams reported across the country between April 2014 and March 2015 also reveals that different types of scam use different methods to approach people:

  • Over a third (37 per cent) of cold call scams reported to the national charity are for professional and financial services.
  • Two in five of all postal scams are lotteries or prize draws, inviting people to claim a prize for a competition they haven’t entered.
  • Four out of five doorstep scams are to do with home improvements and household services. Common scams are around central heating, insulation and roofing, to gas and electricity supplies and people posing as tree surgeons.
  • Two in five internet scams are about personal goods and services including cosmetics that never arrive, beauty treatments that aren’t what they ‘say on the tin’ and slimming pill subscription traps.

The scams seen in Guildford were varied and included internet scams where money is taken from clients’ bank accounts without authority or where clients are asked to pay money in order to secure a loan, and a scam where clients paid money to have qualifications verified.

Joan O'Byrne, manager of Guildford CAB.

Joan O’Byrne, manager of Guildford CAB.

Joan O’Byrne, Manager of Guildford CAB, said: “We’ve advised on seven scam cases in the past year but we know there are likely to be many more cons at large.

“Reporting scams is the only way to get them closed down, so we’re asking people to tell the authorities to stop others from being targeted.

“If you’ve been scammed, or you’re worried about a potential scam, there are also ways in which we can help – you can contact our office or visit the Citizens Advice website for information on your next steps.”

Twelve tell-tale signs for spotting scams

  • If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
  • If you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it.
  • You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.
  • If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.
  • Contacted out of the blue? – be suspicious.
  • Don’t be rushed – resist pressure to make a decision straight away.
  • Never send money to someone you have never met.
  • Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.
  • Your bank will never attend your home to collect cash, your pin, payment card or chequebook if you are a victim of fraud.
  • Your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password.
  • Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons.
  • Suspect a phone scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call your bank.
  • Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.

If you spot a scam or believe you may have been scammed you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.

Guildford CAB, 15 to 21 Haydon Place GU1 4LL, is open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 4pm. Thursday from 10am to 6.30pm, and Saturday from 10am to noon.

Telephone: 01483 576699.

Website: www.guildfordcab.org.uk

Residents who live in the Ash area of Guildford borough can contact Ash CAB, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre).

It offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Telephone: 01252 315569.

Website: www.ashcab.org.uk

Get Into Gear And Volunteer As A Driver

Volunteer drivers are being sought by Sight for Surrey to help transport people with visual impairment to a weekly class in Guildford.

Sight for ~SurreyThe role is to support clients in their learning of communications skills.

The weekly classes runs during term time on Mondays between 9.45am and 11.45am, and drivers are required to collect people from their homes, take them to the local class and take them back home again afterwards. Drivers can also help out in the classes.

Volunteers need to be a car owner with a clean driving licence, insurance that recognises that you will be carrying a passenger as a volunteer, safe driving skills, be punctual, be flexible and reliable, have good interpersonal skills, be friendly, helpful and understanding, have good communication and listening skills, be patient and have empathy with people with visual impairment and occasionally combined sight and hearing loss.

A regular commitment for this service will be for 30 sessions per year of two hours per session during school term time.

You will have initial training of one day to prepare for the role and learn about Sight for Surrey and its policies, awareness of visual impairment and Sighted Guide Techniques together with basic training on adaptive software for visually impaired people. Additional specialist training courses may be offered through the year.

A volunteer can claim for travel expenses or mileage (40 pence a mile) for training and if using your car to transport service users to the group from your home to class and return.

There are also opportunities for class assistant/driver roles in some areas.

To apply and for more details contact volunteer recruitment co-ordinator Sue Howson for an informal chat on 01372 37701 or email showson@sightforsurrey.org.uk

In order to take on the role you would need to have an enhanced police check via the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Sight for Surrey would apply for this on your behalf at no cost to yourself.

You will also be required  to complete a short registration form and provide details of two people who would be prepared to write a reference for you.

Free Advice Sessions Now Available At Merrow Park Surgery

Free advice sessions within certain Guildford GP surgeries is expanding again with sessions at Merrow Park Surgery on Mondays from 9.30am t0 12.30pm.

CAB 1Advisors from the Citizens Advice Bureau are available at Merrow to help people over a wide range of topics from problems with debt, housing, welfare benefits and other legal matters.

The sessions are part of a pilot scheme being co-ordinated by Guildford Advice Services.

The other surgeries at which the National Lottery-funded pilot scheme is operating in are: The Oaks, Applegarth Avenue, Park Barn, on Tuesdays; Dapdune House, Wharf Road, on Wednesdays; and Stoughton Road surgery on Thursdays, all from 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

At the Oaks there is also an advisor from Age UK Surrey. Its advisors can offer advice to those aged 50-plus on a wide range of topics such as health and disability, residential and non-residential care, finding help at home, welfare benefits and searching for grants, housing, employment, education and leisure, transport and many others.

age-uk-surrey-logoAs with the existing three surgeries there will be four 45-minute appointments available, appointments being made in person or over the phone, with their receptionist.

Those wishing to make an appointment at Merrow do not need to be a registered patient at the surgery. As with the others, it is part of the pilot, so will be a short-term arrangement.

The Merrow Park Surgery can be contacted on 01483  503331. Address: Kingfisher Drive, Merrow Park, Guildford, Surrey GU4 7EP.

To access the CAB and Age UK Surrey advisers at The Oaks, and the CAB adviser at Stoughton Road, clients need to be a registered patient at any of the four Guildowns Group surgeries.

To see previous stories click here, and here.

Guildford Advice ServicesFor details of Guildford Advice Services click here for its own section within The Guildford Dragon NEWS. It also found by clicking on a tab below the main heading on the home page.

Also see a sub-tab called What’s New, under which all stories published throughout this website and connected with Guildford Advice Services are additionally archived.

Speak Out To Stop Scams From Spreading Says Guildford CAB

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is calling on people to expose scams and help stop others from falling prey to clever cons that fleece them of thousands of pounds.

CAB 1Scams Awareness Month was launched on July 1 and highlights how scams continue to flourish when people stay silent.

Figures show that less than 5% of victims report scams to the authorities, and Guildford CAB is encouraging residents to report suspicious activities, get advice if they think they’ve been conned, and to warn others to help stop scams from spreading.

Scams come in every form, from doorstep double glazing sales to online investment offers. People may be targeted with “vishing” calls where a fraudster impersonates their bank to collect their bank details, or by bogus companies offering computer services.

Online scams include dodgy job adverts and offers for goods and services, while mail scams may ask victims to pay a fee in order to claim their winnings from a prize draw they haven’t entered.

The Scams Awareness Month campaign is asking people to keep two things in mind when they receive an unsolicited approach or when they are looking for goods or services: don’t be rushed and don’t be hushed. People should take their time to make a decision and get their facts together before parting with their money or personal information, and speak out when they think they’ve spotted a scam.

Christine Parrott from Guildford CAB said: “Scams thrive on silence. Fraudsters know that victims are often too ashamed to share what happened to them, meaning that scams can continue to spread unchecked. We’re urging people to lift the lid on scams and start talking about suspicious email, junk mail, online ads or door-to-door sellers operating in their area.

“Scams are run by professional con artists and it can be very hard to know what to look out for. Our advice is that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re contacted out of the blue be on your guard, and never give your bank details out unless you are certain you know who the person is, and that you can trust them. If you think you have been scammed, contact Citizens Advice for help and report it to Trading Standards.”

Top tips for avoiding scams:

It you haven’t bought a ticket – you can’t win it.

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

You shouldn’t have to pay anything to get a prize.

If in doubt, don’t reply. Bin it, delete it or hang up.

Contacted out of the blue? – be suspicious.

Don’t be rushed – resist pressure to make a decision straight away.

Never send money to someone you have never met.

Walk away from job ads that ask for money in advance.

Your bank will never attend your home to collect cash, your pin, payment card or chequebook if you are a victim of fraud.

Your bank will never phone you to ask for your PIN or your online banking password.

Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a new account for fraud reasons.

Suspect a phone scam? Hang up, wait five minutes to clear the line or use another phone to call your bank.

Genuine computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer.

Don’t suffer in silence – speak out about scams.

What to do if you have been scammed:

Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to help stop it happening to others.

Often you can’t always get your money back if you’ve been scammed, especially if you’ve handed over cash.

If you’ve paid for goods or services by credit card you have more protection and if you used a debit card you may be able to ask your bank for a chargeback.

Get advice and report it to Trading Standards through the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or online advice at www.adviceguide.org.uk

Scams to watch out for:

Pensions scams – phrases such as “one-off investment opportunities”, “free pension reviews”, “legal loopholes”, “cash bonus”, “up-front cash sum”, “government endorsement”, “pension liberation,” are commonly used in pension scams. The initial approach is often an out-of-the-blue phone call, text or email or even sometimes a doorstep caller. Or it could be via an imitation website. Scammers may offer early access to pension pots for people aged under 55 even though this is only possible in exceptional circumstances.

Online shopping and auction scams – internet shoppers get lured into buying phantom cars, mobile phones, pets or anything else you can buy online. Scammers use a range of tricks including bogus websites, spoofed payment services and “second chance offers” tempting losing bidders with bogus opportunities. Online property market places are also infiltrated by scammers harvesting legitimate property details and posing as landlords.

Investment fraud – also called “boiler room” scams because of the high pressure sales technique employed. Shares remain the most common product offered, but they also ask for investment in carbon credits, land, and rare earth metals.

Dating scams – using online dating websites scammers groom victims into long-distance relationships using emails, instant messaging, texting and phone calls. Once they are confident of the victim’s trust, scammers will tell them about a problem they are experiencing and ask for financial help.

Software scams – fraudsters often use the names of well-known companies to commit their crime as it gives a mask of legitimacy to their cruel schemes. Methods include asking for credit card details to “validate” copies of operating systems, stealing personal information, and installing malware before charging to remove it.

Courier scams (a form of vishing) – where people receive unsolicited telephone calls from scammers posing as police or their bank warning of a fraudulent payment on their card or that their card is due to expire. The fraudster will then attend the person’s address or send an innocent courier company driver to collect the card and sometimes provide them with a “replacement” fake card.

Guildford CAB, 15 to 21 Haydon Place GU1 4LL, is open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 4pm. Thursday from 10am to 6.30pm, and Saturday from 10am to noon.

Telephone: 01483 576699.

Website: www.guildfordcab.org.uk

Residents who live in the Ash area of Guildford borough can contact Ash CAB, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre).

It offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Telephone: 01252 315569.

What If There Were No Volunteers For A Week?

Organisations everywhere, both large and small, rely on volunteers to help them operate.

But what would happen if that volunteer help dried up?

Voluntary Action South West Surrey carried out a survey in which it asked local charitable organisations what the effect would be if they did not have their volunteers for one week and all described the hundreds of local people whose healthcare, recreation and quality of life would suffer. 

Emma Robinson, the business support manager at Voluntary Action South West Surrey, collated the information that is listed below. It gives a stark insight into how vital volunteers are to so many organisations.

Emma said: “Without people freely giving their time to help others many aspects of everyday life and some key support services would be severely impacted.”

Volunteers are need to help run the shop!

No volunteers, no charity shops! These three volunteer at Shooting Star Chase’s shop in Guildford.

Parity for Disability provides services for people with multiple disabilities, their families and carers. It has 93 volunteers.

Its response to the effect it would have if it had no volunteers for one week was: “The services would not exist. Without volunteers we would not be able to operate our charity shops which raise a significant part of the £60,000 we need each year to cover costs. Volunteers also ensure that the charity’s fundraising events can take place. Without an IT volunteer maintaining the day service and office computers these wouldn’t be effective.” 

The Guildford Talking Newspaper has 35 volunteers.

Effect of no volunteers: “There would be no Talking Newspaper for our blind and visually impaired readers to listen to. This would affect about 95 people.”

SATRO is an educational charity working with young people in South-East England providing real life experience of all aspects of the working world through a diverse and challenging range of programmes. It relies on 850 volunteers.

Effect of no volunteers: “We quite simply would not be able to run these events. Volunteers help run the games and activities and share their business knowledge which is invaluable to the students. This would impact approximately 556 students per week.”

Royal Voluntary Service Meals on Wheels in Waverley has 250 volunteers.

The effect of no volunteers for the organisation: “If an older person has no other means of getting food then they will quickly become malnourished which could lead to illness. The volunteer delivering the meal could be the only visitor a housebound elderly person gets during the day. There are about 150 recipients in Waverley of this service.”

But what if there were no volunteers at all? Emma Robinson said: “If organisations simply had no volunteer help then the apocalyptic scenario creeps nearer.

“For example, community litter clear-ups, and volunteer-involving recycling and upcycling projects help keep neighbourhoods clean and tidy, and reduce the amount of stuff sent to landfill.  

Local Marks & Spencer staff members volunteered to help do a litter pick along the Wey Navigation in Guildford as part of the national Big Beach and Waterways Clean-up event.

Local Marks & Spencer staff members volunteered to help do a litter pick along the Wey Navigation in Guildford as part of the national Big Beach and Waterways Clean-up event.

“Local volunteer-involving organisations include Keep Britain Tidy, the Guildford Bike Project, Guildford FurnitureLink and of course charity shops. There are more than 213,000 volunteers working in charity shops throughout the UK.” 

John Thurlow, Mayor David Elms, and laura Thurlow cut the ribbon pictured with some of the young people who work at The Guildford Bike Project.

Social enterprise scheme The Guildford Bike Project celebrates its second anniversary in 2014. Volunteers learn new skills and help get bikes back in use for customers.

Emma also points out that it is unlikely that the National Health Service could not continue to be free at the point of delivery without the support of unpaid voluntary workers.

In addition to the thousands of hospital volunteers, many front-line and support services are provided by volunteers. These include emergency blood delivery, first responders medics, neighbourhood transport to medical appointment, mental health support groups, disability therapy groups, day centres and hospices.

The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care, based in Farnham, has nearly 1,000 volunteers, for example. While other locally based charity organisations linked to healthcare include: SERV Blood Runners, Care for Guildford, West Horsley Wheel of Care, MS Therapy Support Group, Canterbury Care Centre, Alzheimer’s Society, Bells Piece, halow project, Guildford Club for the Disabled, The Meath Epilepsy Charity, Parity for Disability, PTSD Resolution, Seeability, TALK, Sight for Surrey, Dyscover.

Volunteer Sam Jones from Guildford won the UK-wide Woodland Trust's Volunteer of the Year award

Volunteer Sam Jones from Guildford won the UK-wide Woodland Trust’s Volunteer of the Year award.

What would happen if the Surrey Hills became covered in Japanese knotweed or other vegetation and there was no one to help clear it?

Volunteers carry out much of the daily conservation work, footpath maintenance and habitat management needed to keep areas of outstanding natural beauty beautiful and sites of special scientific interest interesting. 

Local organisations who rely on volunteer help include Surrey Wildlife Trust, Pewley Down Volunteers, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. And nationally more than 60,000 people volunteer for the National Trust every year.

Other areas in which volunteers add much support include those who mentor and advise thereby providing vital one-to-one support to struggling families with young children. On average it costs local Home-Start charities just £1,000 to £1,200 to support a family for an entire year. 

Volunteer reading assistants in schools provide many children with help they would otherwise not receive. According to a survey by Book Time and Booked Up, only one in five parents easily find the opportunity to read to their children, with the rest struggling to read to their children due to fatigue and busy lifestyles. 

Volunteer helpline operators, mentors, advisers and counsellors help offenders, those in debt and those with addiction problems. Police support volunteer roles include counter service, admin support, puppy development, crime trend researcher. Surrey Police Support Volunteers worked a total of 32,000 hours in 2013.

Volunteer advisor at Ash CAB Sheila Berti celebrates her 80th birthday.

Volunteer advisor at Ash CAB Sheila Berti celebrates her 80th birthday.

Local organisations who are involved in this valuable work include Citizens Advice, Catalyst (formerly SAdAS), Surrey Drug and Alcohol Care, Circles South East and Surrey Police.

Thousands of volunteers help keep our waterways flowing freely. There are more than 450 volunteer lock keepers working on canals in England and Wales.

Organisations operating locally who need volunteers include the Canal & River Trust, Swingbridge Community Project, Waterway Recovery Group, National Trust River Wey and Godalming Navigations.

Emma adds: “Doing good does everyone good. The very act of volunteering itself brings health and wellbeing benefits to the millions of people who give their time to help others.”

According to NCVO, which champions the voluntary sector and volunteering, 13.8 million people in the UK volunteered at least once a month in 2013/14.

You can see hundreds of the volunteer roles available in South West Surrey on Voluntary Action’s website. Click here to view.

Voluntary Action South West Surrey is based at 39 Castle Street, Guildford GU1 3UQ. Visitors are more than welcome to call in and speak to an advisor about volunteering opportunities. Call 01483 564456. An outreach service is also provided in Ash.

For those interesting in volunteering in Waverley, visit or call Voluntary Action’s centre based at Farnham Library, 28 West Street, Farnham GU9 7DR. Tel: 01252 725961.

Website: www.ashcab.org.uk

Free Conference Will Focus On Poverty In Guildford

Although Guildford is generally seen as a wealthy place, there is, unfortunately, poverty across the borough.

People who work in the local voluntary and advice sectors, and those who volunteer themselves – for example at food banks, working with the homeless, or in children’s centres – are often the ones who support those experiencing hardship.

Guildford Advice ServicesA free conference is taking place aimed at ‘grassroots’ volunteers working in the Guildford area, to inform them of changes on the horizon, such as Universal Credit, and their implications.

It is being organised by Guildford Advice Services, a project that promotes collaboration between local advice agencies. The conference, Enhancing Practice, Understanding Poverty: A Guildford Perspective, is taking place at St Saviour’s Church in Woodbridge Road, on Friday, September 18.

Speakers will include the chief executive of Catalyst, Haydn Morris; Guildford Citizens Advice Centre bureau manager, Joan O’Byrne, and its training and quality of advice manager, Sharon Downs; Jo Cookes and Nicola Bassini, from the Diocese of Guildford’s community engagement team; Denise Graves and Jess Hogan-Smith from Voluntary Action South West Surrey; Guildford Borough Council’s money advisor Mark Beasley; and representatives from the Surrey Welfare Rights Unit.

There will also be workshops, time for networking and discussion, plenty of literature and information to take away, plus refreshments and lunch.

For delegates, the conference aims to:

  • Enhance your skills as volunteers by sharing your experiences with others
  • Develop your communication skills
  • Give you an awareness of welfare reform and it’s likely impact in the Guildford area
  • Give you an opportunity to highlight the areas in which you need more support and information and how this can best be delivered to you
  • Develop your knowledge of other agencies, and services, in the Guildford area

Bookings are now being taken and places are limited. Click here for ticket details and to book you FREE place.

Marketplace Get-together For Those Working And Supporting The Local Community

People from a wide range of community services attended the Grassroots Marketplace to discuss and swap details of the important work they do in Guildford.

Community warden Tracy James (centre) with some of those who attended the Grassroots Marketplace on Thursday, June 18.

Community warden Tracy James (centre) with some of those who attended the Grassroots Marketplace on Thursday, June 18.

The annual event was organised by Guildford Borough Council’s community warden for Westborough and Park Barn, Tracy James, and was held on Thursday last week at Westborough United Reformed Church hall in Southway.

Those who attended brought plenty of information, leaflets and promotional material of the services they offer. They included: staff from Guildford Borough Council’s family support team, community wardens, its play and leisure services, community transport scheme, and climate change officer; Surrey County Council’s family information service, Christians Against Poverty; Furniture Link; the Spinney Children’s Centre; Home-Start Guildford; Park Barn & Westborough Community Association; Sight for Surrey; The Matrix Trust; North Guildford Foodbank; Guildford Allotment Society; Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau; Guildford Advice Services; Catalyst; Diocese of Guildford’s communities engagement team; GLADE, Surrey Disabled People’s Partnership, Living Streets; Motivation by Music; Voluntary Action South West Surrey and Joining In!

Emma Craig and Anne Woodward from the Spinney Children's Centre.

Hazel Jobson and Anne Woodward from the Spinney Children’s Centre.

Tracy James hosts three Grassroots meetings a year, one being the Marketplace, the other two featuring guest speakers and a chance for those attending to give updates on their work and projects. The ever-popular Marketplace is widely regarded as an excellent event for groups and organisations in the service, advice and volunteer sectors, whose work takes in the Westborough ward, to network and make contacts.

Ann Mather of the North Guildford Foodbank with Cllr Liz Hopper and her husband, Philip.

Ann Mather of the North Guildford Foodbank with Cllr Liz Hooper and her husband, Philip.

The two new Westborough ward councillors, Liz Hooper and Sheila Kirkland, attended along with a number of members of the public.

Cllr Sheila Kirkland with Wendy Watson from Furniture Link.

Cllr Sheila Kirkland with Wendy Watson from Furniture Link.

Buffet lunch was provided, which was prepared by volunteers Zena Crane and Janet Springer, while the hire of the hall was funded by the Park Barn & Westborough Community Association.

xxxxxx (left) with Erica Sanford and Sally Taylorson of Guildford Advice Services and Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau.

On the right, Erica Sandford and Sally Taylorson of Guildford Advice Services and Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau.

For more details of future Grassroots events contact community warden Tracy James at tracy.james@guildford.gov.uk

Tel: 07767 475822.

Nicolas Bassani from the Diocese of Guildford and xxx

Nicolas Bassani from the Diocese of Guildford’s communities engagement team and Liz Westwood from Home-Start Guildford.

Noreen Moynihan and Beverley Mussell from the Westboorugh Allotments and Guildford Tesco's community champion Sue Keeley (right). Sue helped with the running of the event on the day along with Joining In! co-ordinator David Rose, who took the photos!

Noreen Moynihan and Beverley Mussell from the Westborough Allotments and Guildford Tesco’s community champion Sue Keeley (right). Sue helped with the running of the event on the day along with Joining In! co-ordinator David Rose, who took the photos!

Sue xx from Voluntary Action South West Surrey (left) with xxxx from Sight for Surrey.

Sue Wightman from Voluntary Action South West Surrey (left) with Sheila Burrowes from Sight for Surrey.

Sunrise Gurkha Sports Club’s Special Guest David Rose Sings Them Some English Songs

Nepalese music, dancing, martial arts displays and delicious food were all part of a lively fundraising event hosted by Guildford’s Sunrise Gurkha Sports Club.

It also included some English music courtesy of The Guildford Dragon News’ David Rose!

The evening was held on Saturday, June 20, at the Aggie Club, the hall of the Guildford & District Horticultural Society in Bellfields, with the Mayor of Guildford, Nikki Nelson-Smith as guest of honour.

There were presentations of awards to young members of Guildford’s Nepalese community for their dancing, singing and taekwando skills.

From left: the chairman of the Sunrise Gurkha Sports Club, Budhi Gurung; David Rose and the club's managing director Navaraj Ghale.

From left: the managing director of the Sunrise Gurkha Sports Club, Navaraj Ghale; David Rose; and the club’s chairman Bhundi Gurung.

A special friendship award was presented to writer and historian David Rose for his work helping Guildford’s Nepalese community as part of his role in the Westborough ward as co-ordinator of Joining In!, which supports community involvement.

Among the support he has has given them in this role (managed by Voluntary Action South West Surrey) was playing a part in helping the Sunrise Gurkha Sports Club find new premises to meet when the Guildford Youth Centre building in Haydon Place was earmarked for closure. The club now meets and stores equipment at the hall at St Clare’s Church in Park Barn.

David is also a singer and guitarist. Some of his Nepalese friends have seen him in concert locally with his band Sammy Rat and the Resonators and also the Rhythm of Life community choir. They asked him to take part in the fundraising evening by “singing some English songs”.

He said: “I was thrilled to receive my award, and it will take pride of place in my office at home. As for my spot on stage during the evening, I played and sang Waterloo Sunset by the Kinks, Streets of London by Ralph McTell and the Beatles’ Ticket To Ride.”

The Sunrise Gurkha Sports Club receives a grant each year of just over £2,000 from Guildford Borough Council. It needs to raise a few thousand more to enable it to run and offer a range of sports activities for young people. Membership of the club is open to all.

Members of the sports club taking part in one of their martial arts demonstrations.

Members of the sports club taking part in one of their martial arts demonstrations.

 

Easy To Use Online Service From Citizens Advice Bureau

Did you know that the Citizens Advice Bureau has a free online service that aims to help people understand their rights and entitlements and to take the first step toward resolving their problems?

This can be found at www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

Launched in 1999, the website, previously called Adviceguide, was first used by CAB staff and advisors to check facts and details about advice they might be giving to clients. But public use of the website has increased considerably and it now receives more than 20 million visits a year.

Screen Shot 1The website has been designed to make information quick and easy to find. It offers self-help information on benefits, work, debt and money problems, consumer issues, relationships, housing, law and rights, discrimination, tax, health care and education.

It means that, in some cases, people are able to resolve their problems themselves; or the information will signpost them to someone who can help; or have a better understanding when talking to an advice agency later.

Where appropriate, users are clearly directed to further sources of expert advice. For example, users can also find details of their nearest bureau through the directory of CAB services across the UK in the ‘contact us’ section.

Screen Shot 2The website is organised into categories which are listed at the top of every page. When you hover the mouse over each category title a drop-down menu appears – this shows the main sub-categories and other relevant items.

Screen Shot 3If you click on the category title you will go to the main category index page which will show how the information is arranged into sub-categories.

Screen Shot 4Karen Creeth, assistant manager at Ash CAB said: “The website aims to help people to understand their rights and entitlements and to take the first steps toward resolving their problems.”

“It makes advice available 24 hours a day – a great help, for example to the housebound, disabled and employees who cannot always access a bureau.

“We find that clients really like the fact sheets – they are written in very clear and easy to understand language. They help people understand what their next steps to should be in order to start to resolve their problem.

“There are some excellent tools on the site. There is a budgeting tool to help with understanding household income and expenditure. There are also sample letters for those involved in disputes at work or as a consumer.”

Alternatively, if you would like to speak to a Citizens Advice Bureau advisor direct, here are the details of the Guildford and Ash Guildford bureaux:

Guildford CAB, 15 to 21 Haydon Place GU1 4LL, is open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 4pm. Thursday from 10am to 6pm, and Saturday from 10am to noon.

Telephone: 01483 576699.

Website: www.guildfordcab.org.uk

Ash CAB, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre), offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Telephone: 01252 315569.

Website: www.ashcab.org.uk

Legal Service That Helps Disadvantaged People Opens More Clinics

The Surrey Law Centre, that helps disadvantaged people defend their legal rights, will soon have clinics in eight towns across the county.

Surrey Law Centre development worker Angie Brock said: “Over the last few months I have been working very hard to get more free legal advice clinics up and running for the people. The support from the various firms of solicitors throughout Surrey has been tremendous and we could not run our clinics without them.

“I have now opened clinics in Dorking and Godalming and hope to have clinics opened in Oxted and Walton-on-Thames by the end of June. I have also opened three specialised domestic abuse clinics in Godalming, Reigate and Epsom.”

Surrey Law CentreThe clinics already open include:

Epsom: family, employment and civil matters. Mondays 5.15pm to 7.15 pm, every fortnight and by appointment.

Epsom: domestic abuse. Tuesday, 1.30pm to 3.30pm, third Tuesday of the month and by appointment.

Dorking: family issues. Monday, 6pm to 8pm. Every fortnight and by appointment.

Godalming: family, employment and civil matters. Thursday, 6pm to 8pm. Every fortnight and by appointment.

Godalming: domestic abuse. Monday, 1.30pm to 3.30pm. First Monday of the month and by appointment.

Guildford: domestic abuse. Thursday, 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Last Thursday of the month by appointment.

Guildford: all areas of law. Tuesday, 6.30pm to 8.30pm, with registration at 6pm. Weekly drop in, no appointment required.

Reigate (Woodhatch): family, employment and civil law. Wednesday, 6.15pm to 8.15pm. Every week and by appointment.

Reigate (Woodhatch): domestic abuse. Friday, 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Second Friday of the month and by appointment.

Woking: family, employment and civil matters. Thursday, 6pm to 8pm. Every fortnight by appointment.

To make an appointment call 0330 002 0099. Lines are open Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm.

Email: reception@surreylawcentre.org

Website: www.surreylawcentre.org

Helping People Change Their Lives Brings Royal Recognition For Catalyst

When Southern Addictions Advisory Service (SAdAS) decided to launch its new name, Catalyst, to reflect its work with people around drugs, alcohol and mental health during national 2015 Volunteers’ week, they didn’t expect to be receiving a royal honour at the same time.

The launch event at G Live on Wednesday last week saw more than 100 clients, staff, partner organisations ,volunteers and guests including the Mayor of Guildford, Nikki Nelson-Smith, enjoy  music and displays of work. Catalyst heard the news they it been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of the work of its volunteer counsellors the day before.

CatalystCatalyst has been providing support for people across Surrey with drug and alcohol related problems over the last 30 years and is recognised for offering an individual, non-judgmental and welcoming approach and believes strongly that people have the ability to change with the right professional  help.

The charity also works with friends and families, helping to minimise the harm to communities.  The main programmes are Surrey-wide: Integrated Services  for drugs and alcohol, Reach Out Counselling and The Welcome Project for mental health wellbeing in Guildford, Surrey Heath and Waverley.

Chief executive Haydn Morris said: “We want to be a Catalyst for bringing services together to inspire the best outcome for people who come to us. We are delighted to be able to look to the future with the recognition of the Queen’s Award for the hard work and skill of our volunteers and staff.”

Catalyst takes referrals from partner organisations as well as self-referrals and will work to find the best support for individuals to help them make changes in their lives.

Lively music from The Banned – comprised of clients, former clients and staff– began and ended the launch.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities.

The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s golden jubilee and winners are announced each year on June 2 – the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.

Catalyst will receive its award from the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey later this summer.

For more about the work of Catalyst go to www.catalystsupport.org.uk

Neighbourhood Angels Required To Befriend Older People

Do you have a few hours to spare and would like to volunteer and befriend older people and vulnerable adults who are lonely or isolated?

Those you will be helping may simply yearn for someone to drop by to have chat with, or help them to go out to do a bit of shopping, or go with them to a day centre.

Care Angels leader Rachel Guilford is looking for people to can help out as volunteers, giving people in need a well-needed boost.

Care Angels leader Rachel Guilford is looking for people to can help out as volunteers, giving people in need a well-needed boost.

Neighbourhood Angels is operating throughout the borough of Guildford with the long-term aim of reducing dependency on health and social services by utilising volunteers and community services.

Its co-ordinator, Rachel Guilford, said: “Our volunteers will get to know them and offer to take them out, although that may not be straight away as the people we will be helping may lack confidence and may have lost contact with society.

“The aim is that volunteers will sign up for a set number of months to make sure there is continuity with those they are befriending.”

Volunteers who become Neighbourhood Angels will receive guidance on listening skills, training on safeguarding and advice on helping people reconnect with their communities.

Volunteers will be matched with people who will benefit the most from their life skills. For example, it may be a volunteer who has experience of someone with dementia in their own family, or who shares a common interest with the person they befriend.

Neighbourhood Angels Training Event June 27thFor those interested in volunteering, a befriending training day is being held on Saturday, June 27, from 10am to 3.30pm. This free workshop (with lunch and refreshments provided) is open to anyone over the age of 18. It is taking place at the Park Barn Centre, Park Barn Drive, Guildford GU2 8EN.

To book or to find out more contact Rachel Guilford on 07796 098077. Or email her at rachel.guilford@cofeguildford.org.uk

Neighbourhood Angels is being facilitated by the Diocese of Guildford’s Community Engagement Team and is funded by Guildford Borough Council.

Working Hard To Provide A Voice For Disabled People And Their Carers

In a quiet corner of Burpham there is a group of people led by an amazing chief doing great things for disabled people across Surrey. DANI MAIMOME finds out about the Surrey Coalition of Disabled People.

According to the Disability Facts and Figures*, there are more than 11 million people in the UK with a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability the most common of which affect mobility, lifting or carrying.  It’s no surprise that the rate of disability rises with age. Approximately 6% are children with 16% of working age adults affected and 45% of adults over the age of state pension.

The Surrey Coalition of Disabled People, formerly known as the Surrey Users Network, was set up in October 2006 and is led by chief executive Carol Pearson, an energetic woman who loves to make things happen and who is herself severely sight impaired.

The Surrey Coalition of Disabled People Team, at their Astolat offices in Burpham. Alison White Events Coordinator, Sylwia Squires PA to Carol Pearson, Sue Peryy, Admin and Finance, Carol Pearson, Chief Executive (seated Centre)

The Surrey Coalition of Disabled People team at their Astolat offices in Burpham.
From left: Events co-ordinator Alison White, PA to Carol Pearson Sylvia Squires, admin and finance assistant Sue Perry, and seated in the centre chief executive Carol Pearson.

Carol knows first hand what effect developing a disability can have on you. She says: “I worked in the NHS for 30 years and held a high position there, but over a period of time my eyesight began to deteriorate until I could no longer drive or read. I felt I had no option but to give up my job and having to do so really knocked my self confidence. I have been very fortunate to be in this role with the Surrey Coalition since it started and witness the positive changes we have helped to bring about.”

The Surrey Coalition works in close partnership with Action for Carers Surrey and the Disability Alliance Network Surrey (formerly Empowerment Boards), working together with the aim of providing a voice for disabled people and their carers across the county encouraging them to campaign for better services.

It provides them with the opportunity to get involved with influencing policies, strategies and services that impact their lives and those of other disabled people making the service better and more accessible for them all throughout Surrey. Around 20% of the population has a disability or some form of impairment preventing them from leading what many would term a ‘normal life.’

Many people often assume that the term disabled equates to being a wheelchair user not realising perhaps that it’s much broader than that. A disability can include; sight or hearing loss, cognitive impairment such as a brain injury, learning disabilities and mental health issues. If you are in some way unable to lead a normal life due to some sort of health issue then you might be considered disabled and therefore entitled to access various support services.

The coalition works with adults of any age with any form of impairment including those that have acquired a disability as a result of ageing. It will also challenge others to ensure that services developed reflect the Social Model of Disability.

Surrey County Council (SCC) funds the coalition so that it can be the central point of engagement with the many different people in the public and voluntary sector organisations throughout the county, which as you can imagine is huge.

The board of directors of the Surrey Coalition of Disabled people.

The board of directors of the Surrey Coalition of Disabled People.

With 11 boroughs / districts in Surrey, the coalition is linked to about 100 voluntary organisations, plus the county council, acute hospitals, police, and so on.

Carol adds: “There are so many it’s sometimes hard to keep track of them all. The services we engage with are all very responsive which makes such a difference and gets a vital message across where previously, prior to the coalition, there would have been little opportunity to do so.

“For example, we knew that the welfare reforms that were brought in three years ago would cause huge problems with the discretionary disability allowance. We were able to demonstrate to SCC what the problems would be; they took it on board and set up a benefits advice service called Get Wise.

“It’s been running for two years now and has been hugely successful. Get Wise has brought in a great deal of money for individuals who were not previously getting the benefits they were entitled to. The knock on effect is it helps the Surrey economy as these people have more money to live on and with the support they get are less dependent on other services.”

More than 100 volunteers are involved with the coalition, providing their views as well as representing and acting as a voice for others.

They also provide peer support to others who may have similar issues, supporting them and guiding them through the system or simply providing emotional support which, can greatly help to boost self confidence.

In the last five years the coalition has been involved with setting up a number of Citizen Hubs. These are information points in various towns in Surrey run by disabled people and their carers for disabled people.

They provide important information about what the coalition is doing and how to access the services that are available.

The first hub to open was on Epsom High Street and there are now also hubs in Staines, Camberley, Dorking, Addlestone, Walton-on-Thames, Redhill, Godalming and Woking, with an ongoing search for an appropriate location in Guildford.

Carol continues: “It’s important for people to feel socially included. Even if they can’t work there are a lot of opportunities for them to contribute and feel valued by society and volunteering in a place run by disabled people is hugely boosting to one’s confidence. Some people also like to get more involved with what we do.

“There have been plenty of positive outcomes for us over the last few years, but the health service has been more difficult as there have been so many changes taking place it makes it more difficult to predict how the future will unfold. We are always trying to influence people to get the resources and provide the services that we need.”

Carol is clearly a woman with a passion and her team reflect that too. They all work very hard and there are often 30 to 40 events a month to manage, bringing various organisations together to discuss a variety of topics on the agenda that can be anything from transport issues to the Surrey Independent Living Fair which takes place at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Thursday, June 25.

Carols sums up her role at the coalition: “It is amazing working here. It’s very rewarding working with people who have had huge issues to overcome and watch them move forward with their lives like everyone else does.

“It’s wonderful to see how they have blossomed and become much more confident people, with quite a number of them going on to get jobs as a result of being involved with what we do here.

“It’s really important for them to feel that they have more control of their lives and are helping to design the services that they themselves need to access, to feel that those are the way they would have wanted them to be or as close to that as possible and by doing that make a difference to others as well. What can I say? I love my job.”

To find out more go to www.surreycoalition.org.uk

Som,e of the coalition's directors on a group visit to Box Hill.

Some of the coalition’s directors on a group visit to Box Hill.

*Information supplied by the Department for Work and Pensions in January 2014.

Fun-filled Day For All At This Saturday’s Big Wheel Community Event (May 30)

The Big Wheel – Spring into Action is free to enter community event focusing on cycling, walking, sports, healthy living and wellbeing, taking place at Bannisters Field, Guildford GU2 7UN (near Tesco store) this Saturday, May 30, from 11am to 4pm.

Young people will want to show off their skills on the cycle pump track, take up the basketball challenge or have a go at soft archery.

There will also be lots of children’s activities, crafts and games, inflatables, trampolines and slides.

Try out the pump track at The Big Wheel - Spring into Action event on Saturday, May 30, at Bannisters Field near Guildford Tesco store.

Try out the pump track at The Big Wheel – Spring into Action event on Saturday, May 30, at Bannisters Field near Guildford Tesco store.

Adults can get information on a wide range of topics for healthier living and wellbeing and even take a heart monitor test courtesy of the British Heart Foundation.

Those who enjoy cycling will be able to try out unusual bikes and get bike repair tips by the team from of The Guildford Bike Project.

It is being organised by the Joining In! project that supports community development and Guildford Borough Council. The Joining In! co-ordinator for the Westborough ward is David Rose (also of The Guildford Dragon NEWS). He said: “We have been planning this event for six months and it is coming together really well with lots of people, groups and organisations taking part.

“It’s all what Joining In! is about – communities coming together for great events like this.

“It is free to enter and open to all – wherever you live! My project is managed by Voluntary Action South West Surrey and I work closely with Guildford Borough Council’s community warden for Westborough and Park Barn, Tracy James.

“We have a team of volunteers helping us organise The Big Wheel. It includes former Stoughton police community support office Sheila Wills. In fact, the team is much the same as the one we had that put on the Stoughton in the Great War event last September. You know how good that was, so we are keeping our fingers crossed this will be as popular, if not more so.”

Flyer horizontalCommunity warden Tracy James said: “We have lots of free items to give away on the day. We have cycle security kits available from a grant via the police and crime commissioner and lots of walking and cycle items, such as pedometers, bike locks, lights and high viz kit courtesy of a grant from Travel SMART.”

Guildford Borough Council’s Play Rangers will be offering lots of activities for children along with the Matrix Trust and others.

Visitors are being encourage to walk or cycle to the event and those who do ride may like to go for a guided cycle around the area hosted by Travel SMART.

Learn about local sustainable transport plans and get interactive with the people from Motivate Stoke. Check out first aid demonstrations by St John Ambulance and take a look at a pictorial display of cycling in Guildford over the years including the popular craze of cycle speedway from the 1950s.

There will also be information stands from organisations including Walking For Health, Royal Surrey County Hospital, Voluntary Action South West Surrey, Guildford Borough Council’s community development team, Surrey Stop Smoking Service, and more.

Refreshments and a barbecue will be available on the day. There will be bike racks on site for those cycling.

If driving, nearest parking is Onslow park and ride that is a short walk from Bannisters Field.

Big Wheel site planThe event has funding from Travel SMART and the Joining In! project.

Details on the Joining In! website www.joiningin.org.uk, or call GBC community warden Tracy James on 07767 475822.

Job vacancies at Guildford CAB and Age UK Surrey

Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau is recruiting for an advice session supervisor and a welfare benefits caseworker, working in the Macmillan Cancer Support Team that is based at the bureau in Haydon Place.

Today's CAB logo.

Today’s CAB logo.

Full details are available by clicking here for the Guildford Advice Service’s website or by clicking here for Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau website.

Age UK Surrey, with its offices in Guildford, is also recruiting for two positions.

There is a vacancy for a team leader – personal independence programme, working 36.25 hours per week, 15 month fixed-term contract. The post involves working closely with the community support and development manager in the development of the integrated care service within the boroughs of Guildford and Waverley to provide short-term support to improve the health and wellbeing of older people with long- term conditions who experience high numbers of avoidable hospital admissions.

age-uk-surrey-logoIts other vacancy is for a personal independence co-ordinator. It is a 12-month fixed-term contract working 36.25 hours a week. The job purpose is to work closely with the team lLeader – personal independence programme to provide short-term support to improve the health and wellbeing of older people with long-term conditions who experience high numbers of avoidable hospital admissions. Work is primarily within the boroughs of Guildford and Waverley.

The closing date for the Age UK Surrey vacancies is Friday, June 5.

For more details, click here for Age UK Surrey’s website.

Free Advice On A Range Of Topics At Three Local GP Surgeries: Scheme To Expand Further

A pilot scheme providing free advice sessions within three of Guildford’s GP surgeries has been hailed a success and is set to expand as its half-way point approaches.

Today's CAB logo.

Today’s CAB logo.

Currently, advisors are from Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau and Age UK Surrey. The surgeries at which the National Lottery-funded pilot scheme is operating in are: The Oaks, Applegarth Avenue, Park Barn on Tuesdays; Dapdune House, Wharf Road, on Wednesdays; and Stoughton Road surgery on Thursdays, all from 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

Sally Taylorson, from Guildford Advice Services (based at Guildford CAB in Haydon Place) who is co-ordinating the pilot said: “Feedback from those seen by advisers so far has been overwhelmingly positive with all those who responded stating that they ‘would recommend the service to others’.”

age-uk-surrey-logoAmanda, the CAB adviser with the pilot scheme, said: “Many clients have told me that having the CAB service at the doctors’ surgery is valuable as, particularly for older clients or those with mobility problems, it means that they do not have to make a trip into town and find parking, or pay bus fares.”

All clients are seen by appointment only. CAB appointments at Dapdune House surgery are available to anyone, whether registered to that practice or not. If you would like to make an appointment call the surgery on 01483 400200.

To access the CAB and Age UK Surrey advisers at The Oaks, and the CAB adviser at Stoughton Road, clients need to be a registered patient at any of the four Guildowns Group surgeries.

On Tuesdays at The Oaks there are two advisers, one from the CAB and one from Age UK Surrey.

The Citizens Advice Bureau is able to help people over a wide range of topics from problems with debt, housing, welfare benefits and other legal matters. Age UK Surrey can offer advice to those aged 50-plus on a wide range of topics such as health and disability, residential and non-residential care, finding help at home, welfare benefits and searching for grants, housing, employment, education and leisure, transport and many others.

The service is soon to develop even further when a counsellor from The Fountain Centre will begin holding sessions at the Stoughton Road surgery.

The Fountain Centre is a charity for cancer patients, their families and carers to whom they offer advice, counselling and a huge range of complementary therapies. The charity has its main base at St Luke’s Cancer Centre at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford. Appointments for this service can only be offered to those registered at one of the surgeries within the Guildowns Group Practice or currently registered with The Fountain Centre.

Anne Pike, The Fountain Centre co-ordinator, said: “We are really excited to have our first outreach counselling service; this will enable local residents affected by cancer to access counselling closer to home.”

For more information on The Fountain Centre call 01483 406618, or visit the website www.fountaincentre.org 

For more information on Guildford Advice Services visit www.guildfordadviceservices.org

Support For Children And Their Parents At The Spinney

It’s not only young ones who benefit from the services at the Spinney Children’s Centre, it also gives plenty of support to parents who are considering their return to work after time off caring for their family, as reporter ANNA VALENTINA finds out.

The Spinney Children’s Centre, in Southway, Park Barn, gives a hand to parents with young children. They support families to become healthy and happy. Moreover, they give support to parents who would like to get back to work after the years of childcare.

At the Spinney Children's Centre There is a wall full of curiosities with something to touch, something to grab and something to open.

At the Spinney Children’s Centre there is a wall full of curiosities with something to touch, something to grab and something to open.

It is a great delight becoming a parent; at the same time this period is full of stress and uncertainty. How to take care of a newborn baby? How to support the natural inquisitiveness of a child? How to explain the art of making friends? There could be millions of tricky problems, as unique as children are.

The right answers are easier to find if you ask the professionals. There are around 900 children under the age of five who live in Park Barn, Westborough and Onslow Village, and they all can get such support from the Spinney.

The deputy manager at the Spinney, Melissa Green.

The deputy manager at the Spinney, Melissa Green.

The deputy manager of the centre, Melissa Green, describes some of the many things they can do for both children and their parents.

She explains that Spinney is a community hub for families with children under the age of five where midwives, health visitors and the Spinney team are on hand to support and advise parents through play and learn sessions, baby  clinics, baby massage, paediatric first aid and many more sessions. They aim to show how to have fun while learning and exploring and how to prepare a child for school. Fathers are covered too as there is a special group for them.

Melissa said: “All these drop-in sessions that we are running are quite popular, the leading one being Play and Learn. About 50 children with their parents attend it every week.”

The Spinney also offers a free service for those parents who seek help with their return to education, training or employment. It is being funded by a grant from Surrey County Council’s Travel SMART scheme.

The child, especially a newborn, is the centre of the universe for its parents, but sooner or later maternity leave ends. Then, there comes a time to think about the process of returning to work. That could be a challenge for those mums who spend several years at home with their children.

The Spinney's education, training and employment co-ordinato, Hazel Jobson.

The Spinney’s education, training and employment co-ordinato, Hazel Jobson.

The Spinney’s education, training and employment co-ordinator is Hazel Jobson. She helps parents consider options available to them and when they are ready she helps them to complete job applications, write CVs and gives tip on improving their interview skills.

Equally important is that she encourages people to have a positive attitude and helps them to build their confidence. A lot of mothers admit they feel that their empolyability skills have been lost and that they do not understand what they could offer any employer.

Hazel points out that in fact these women quite often have invaluable experience to a potential employer. She said: “If they have been able to raise several children, they will be well organised, be good at multitasking, and have excellent communication and negotiation skills. There are a lot of employers who would be happy to hire such a worker.”

According to Hazel, even if a woman feels that children are her real passion, she could turn it to her advantage by getting a job in a nursery or a school.

To get valuable experience and good references is not a problem as there are volunteer roles available at the Spinney.

Hazel had been in the same situation herself. After five years of maternity leave she decided to go back to work. She said it was not easy, but she managed to do it, and now generously shares her experience. The results of her work are impressive as since September five people she has supported are now in permanent jobs.

Children learn about plants and even grow some vegetables at the Spinney.

Children learn about plants and even grow some vegetables at the Spinney.

The Spinney Children’s Centre is a not-for-profit organisation. It is based at Guildford Grove School, Southway GU2 8YD. It is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.

Tel: 01483 510570.

Email: childrenscentre@guildfordgrove.surrey.sch.uk

Website: www.thespinneycc.org.uk

 

Food Aid On The Increase: Ash Citizens Advice Bureau Reveals Reasons Through Its Own Foodbank

A record number of food aid was given out in the UK over the past 12 months.

The Trussell Trust charity has released figures in which 1,084,604 three-day parcels were distributed, an increase of 19% on the previous 12-month period.

There are a number of food banks across the borough of Guildford, one of them being at Ash Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Between October last year and March 2015 it distributed 23 family sized boxes of food, 33 single boxes and 22 vouchers for people to collect food parcels at other food bank outlets. Half of the vouchers that were handed out were in the month of December.

Staff at Ash CAB have conducted two in-depth surveys of people who have used its food bank, which is part of the Farnham Foodbank network that has a close association with the Trussell Trust.

P1020589

Barbara Kemp and Valerie McNeilly of Ash Citizens Advice Bureau.

Barbara Kemp and Valerie McNeilly co-ordinate the food bank at Ash CAB. They liaise with the Farnham Foodbank who supply them with the single and family sized boxes of food. This initiative was set up by Christians from churches across the town.

Ash CAB has compiled a list of ‘reason for issue’ of the food parcels it has recently distributed, pointing out that the figures must be taken as a snapshot as they do not reflect the actual complexity or range of issues that clients face.

Reasons for issue:

Benefit changes 14 (people)

Benefits delays 18

Homeless 3

Low income 20

Debt 2

Sickness 2

Child holiday meal 1

Other 7

Barbara Kemp said: “As an example, a family on low income may experience extra pressures during school holidays when the children do not receive a free school meal during weekdays. The already stretched family budget has to find the meal instead. But is this recorded as ‘child holiday meal’ or ‘low income’? Or maybe it’s because of benefit changes or delays. Our recording mechanism only allows for ‘one reason’ for issue, even if there are several combined issues.

“Many of those we have helped use the food bank on more than one occasion – usually because the underlying problems they are experiencing, such as low income, are ongoing and not easily resolvable.”

People who use the food bank normally use a voucher system. They obtain vouchers from people or organisations who have identified that person or family having a need.

Today's CAB logo.

Today’s CAB logo.

For example, in the Ash area vouchers are issued by the community wardens and by schools and nurseries. Ash CAB can also issue vouchers and sometimes people take these and exchange them for food parcels at other local outlets such as The Chapel in Wharf Road, Ash Vale.

Barbara adds: “Most of the people we see are local. Although the food parcels come in cardboard boxes, we provide plastic bags [from well know food stores] for people to take their food home in. Many prefer that to carrying a large box that can obviously look like a food parcel.”

With the CAB’s wealth of experience in helping people and giving advice on a wide range of topics, when people come to collect food at Ash CAB, the staff always conduct an interview with them to find out their areas of need and to look at the underlying reasons for the situation they are in.

In many cases they can begin to help people resolve the problems they are facing.

Reasons for requiring food aid are varied. For example, a single man aged 30 with long-term mental health problems received a food parcel after his employment and support allowance (ESA) had been stopped as he had not attended a medical appointment. He reapplied for ESA but did not receive benefits until he had attended a Department of Work and Pensions medical.

A couple in their 40s, with two children, and who normally work full time required food aid as their income fell due to one being off sick and receiving statuary sick pay while the other’s working hours were reduced.

A further example is of a couple with health issues who were receiving ESA. One of them was in hospital in London and their partner used available income for fares to make visits, meaning there was no money left to buy food. At one time a person who was receiving benefits could have applied for a community care grant that would have helped to pay travel costs to visit a relative in hospital. That grant was abolished in April 2013.

Ash CAB points out that there are a number of factors that may be affecting the increased use of food banks in the UK. During the last 10 years real household income has remained relatively flat. However, fuel costs (electricity, gas, etc) have risen by 119%, transport costs have risen by 78%, water bills have gone up by 50% and food has increased on average by 44%.

The number of private renters in the UK has doubled over the past 10 years and Ash CAB says that locally private rents have increased dramatically. Staff believe that many households struggle to meet rent payments, noting that housing benefit is restricted to a maximum figure, which often does not cover the full contractual rent.

It also states that many jobs locally are either minimum wage – or zero hours contract – or both. That means a person working full time (40 hours per week) on minimum wage (£6.50 per hour) would take home £235 per week or £1,022 per month.

Delays in the payment of benefits are another reason why people seek help from food banks, particularly at Ash CAB. For example, a first application for benefit takes time for that claim to be processed. Benefits sometimes need to be adjusted due to someone’s circumstances changing, while someone changing from receiving jobseekers allowance to employment and support allowance may incur a delay in their money being paid. Sometimes clients fail to supply the authorities with the necessary information that they need to process the benefit which can delay payment.

As soon as the team at Ash CAB discover why the client is in crisis, they can do a number of things, ranging from a benefit check, budgeting advice and following up various authorities on their behalf to try to get help to improve their situation.

Ash CAB is based at the Ash Centre.

Ash CAB is based at the Ash Centre, Ash Hill Road.

The food bank at Ash CAB, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre), is open during its normal opening hours.

The centre offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Telephone: 01252 315569.

Website: www.ashcab.org.uk

Support And Advice On Legal Highs Available At New Drop-in Sessions

A Guildford-based charity is offering a new drop-in session giving advice and support about legal highs.

The pilot sessions, the first of their kind in Surrey, are being offered by SAdAS (Southern Addictions Advisory Service) that works with people who have drug, alcohol and mental health issues.

The sessions began on Wednesday this week (April 8) at Guildford Action’s day centre, Beverley Hall in Haydon Place, GU1 4ND. The sessions will be weekly on Wednesdays from 6pm to 7.30pm.

Posters announcing the service are headed ‘Legal doesn’t mean safe / don’t be a guinea pig’.

SAdAS’S chief executive Hayden Morris said: “This pilot, the first in Surrey, will offer people who are worried about their use [of legal highs] the opportunity to find out more and where to access help.”

Experienced staff will be available to offer support and advice.

Legal highs or NPS (novel or new psychoactive substances) are different from traditional illicit drugs. They have been created to mimic the effects of illicit drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines.

When one product is banned, another (slightly tweaked at molecular level) product will take its place, often marketed as the new version of the banned substance.

SAdAS adds that all other drugs have been studied over the years and information is available on their long- and short term-effects. This cannot be said for legal highs. There has been no safety testing.

SAdAS is based at 14 Jenner Road, Guildford GU1 3PL T.

Tel: 01483 590150.

540_SAdAS_legal High A4_WEB-2

Colleagues At Ash CAB Mark Volunteer Advisor’s 80th Birthday

A volunteer advisor at Ash Citizens Advice Bureau was pleasantly surprised when her colleagues presented her with a balloon, flowers and a home-made cake to mark her 80th birthday.

Volunteer advisor at Ash CAB Sheila Berti celebrates her 80th birthday.

Volunteer advisor at Ash CAB Sheila Berti celebrates her 80th birthday.

Sheila Berti has been an advisor at the bureau for 12 years and works an average of one day a week.

Bureau manager Vicky Payne said: “Giving good advice to people appears to runs in Sheila’s family as her grandson, aged 16, has been doing a two-week work experience placement here at Ash CAB!”

Citizens Advice Stalwart Is An Inspiration To Any Would-Be Advisor

Anyone who is thinking of becoming a volunteer advisor with the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) will be inspired by the work of a key member of the team at the bureau in Ash.

Barbara Kemp of Ash Citizens Advice Bureau.

Barbara Kemp of Ash Citizens Advice Bureau.

Barbara Kemp has just retired from her staff role as session supervisor and trainer, but will not be leaving the bureau entirely as she is about to take on a new role with a local focus on the CAB’s work of research and campaigning.

Living the in local community for more than 40 years, Barbara started as a volunteer with Ash CAB in 1989. At that time her children were growing up and she felt she wanted to give something back to the community, one in which she understood a good deal about.

About 13 years ago she took over a paid post at the bureau for two days a week, supervising volunteer advisors on one day and training new volunteers the other day.

Encouraging anyone who may like to become a CAB advisor, Barbara said: “What is essential is that you have an interest in people. If you have that, you are likely to do well. And you don’t have to have prior knowledge of the specific services CABs offer.”

Ash CAB runs one course a year for new volunteers starting each September. Up to eight volunteers usually enrol. Volunteers study by using booklets from the CAB’s national training scheme. They also have a tutorial session once a week, and the course lasts six months.

Barbara added: “During the course they can gain some experience volunteering at the bureau to get a feel of how it operates – such as working as a receptionist.”

The training culminates with a two-day skills course after which volunteers go back to their bureau and start working with clients – but under supervision of senior staff. This includes a good deal of support and nurturing as they learn more about the wide range of issues people are facing and ways to help them.

Barbara started her volunteering spending one day a week at the bureau, and back then, like now, people who are attracted to the role are often those who lead a busy life with lots of other interests.

Her work with the CAB also included 15 spent with a specialist benefits unit based in Woking.

As she begins a new role with the CAB, she points out that at Ash CAB in particular, it is not unusual for advisors to complete 15 to 20 years’ service.

One aspect of her new role with regard to research will be to look into how foodbanks are operating in the local area – why people need them and how they help people on low incomes. The information and data Barbara collates will then be forwarded to the CAB’s national database and researchers.

Barbara said: “I have made some very long-term friends while being here, the work has always been very enjoyable.”

Ash CAB, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre), offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Telephone: 01252 315569.

Website: www.ashcab.org.uk

Voluntary Action’s Conference Brings Everyone Together

The theme of Voluntary Action South West Surrey’s 2015 conference was ‘together’; and it did just that with key speakers, successful workshop sessions and an opportunity for useful networking.

Voluntary Action's 2015 conference was held at Christ's College in Guildford.

Voluntary Action’s 2015 conference was held at Christ’s College in Guildford.

More than 100 delegates from organisations linked to the voluntary sector attended the conference on Tuesday (March 31) held at Christ’s College in Bellfields.

The ever-popular workshops included one hosted by Guildford MP Anne Milton. She highlighted ways to make effective contact with MPs, and how to work with them to highlight social issues as well as effects of current law and guidance.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS’ David Rose hosted a workshop that gave advice on writing press releases and ways to encourage local media to publish them.

Kevin Curley CBE.

Kevin Curley CBE.

The keynote address was given by Kevin Curley CBE, formerly the chief executive officer of the National Association of Voluntary and Community Action and well known in the sector for his support of voluntary action.

The deputy chief executive of Surrey County Council, Susie Kemp.

The deputy chief executive of Surrey County Council, Susie Kemp.

Other speakers included the deputy chief executive of Surrey County Council, Susie Kemp; the director of Kelly’s Storage’s Charity Events, Moira Martin; and the head of the department of tourism and events at the University of Surrey, Dr Caroline Scarles.

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Dr Caroline Scarles.

Linda Pope asks delegates to reflect on the things they had learned during the conference.

Linda Pope asks delegates to reflect on the things they had learned during the conference.

The closing session was hosted by Linda Pope of Inspired Coaching and Training. She calls herself its ‘chief enthusiasm officer’. Her presentation brought delegates together to ensure all the great things they had learned were both memorable and actionable.

The chief officer of Voluntary Action South West Surrey, Carol Dunnett, said: “What a fantastic day it was. All our speakers lived up to our very high expectations and delivered talks full of useful information and inspiring ideas.

“We had excellent feedback on all aspects of the day from the delegates. Of David Rose’s workshop, people said he gave them lots of useful tips and contacts that were informative and practical.

“I’m already looking forward to starting to plan for next year’s conference.”

Voluntary Action South West Surrey's chief officer, Carol Dunnett.

Voluntary Action South West Surrey’s chief officer, Carol Dunnett.

There was also a marketplace of suppliers and service providers organised by the Charities Buying Group. These included 2020 Catering and Events Ltd, 3rd Sector Telecom, ASI Environmental, CBG Foodservice, Covertherm, Digital Office, Imperative Energey, RSM 2000 Ltd and the Charities Buying Group.

Carol Dunnett also thanked all the volunteers and Voluntary Action staff who helped on the day, from those meeting delegates as they arrived to the catering team.

New Legal Advice Clinics Announced Following Changes at Surrey Law Centre

A service that helps disadvantaged people across Surrey defend their legal rights is back on track with a number of new legal advice clinics.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.43.03Although the Surrey Law Centre has now closed its office in Chertsey Street, Guildford, it is currently offering advice by phone and email, but is hoping to acquire new premises in the county soon.

It also has a new telephone number – 0330 002 009.  The service can be called every day except Wednesday between 10am and 3pm.

A spokesman said: “We are currently a virtual office, communicating by telephone and email, but we are launching three new clinics from the beginning of April, covering family, employment and civil law. These will be in Epsom, Woking and Woodhatch [Reigate].”

A domestic abuse clinic will also be available in Guildford on the last Thursday of every month between 1.30pm and 4pm launching on April 30.

The Epsom clinic will run on a Monday between 5.15pm and 7.15pm (fortnightly) launching on April 13.

The Woking clinic will run on a Thursday between 6pm and 8pm (fortnightly) launching on April 2.

The Woodhatch clinic will run on a Wednesday between 6.15pm and 8.15pm (family one week, employment the next) launching on April 1.

The spokesman added: “We are not releasing the addresses of the locations on our website or flyers, as these are appointment-only clinics and we do not want to be in a position where people come along  without booking an appointment and are then disappointed as they will not be able to be seen.”

The Surrey Law Centre will also be offering in the next month or so clinics in Dorking, which will run on the alternate Monday to the Epsom clinic between 6pm and 8pm and a Godalming clinic, which will run on the alternate Thursday to the Woking clinic, between 6pm and 8pm.  They will also be expanding across Surrey with more clinics in the near future.

It is organising a sponsored walk that will be taking place on June 1 in Guildford. Information about it coming soon on the Surrey Law Centre’s website www.surreylawcentre.org

Citizens Advice Bureaux Have Been Helping Guildford People For More Than 75 Years

David Rose takes a look at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Guildford – from its wartime beginnings to how the organisation today helps thousands of people each year at its centres in Guildford town centre and at Ash.

A free advice service to anyone in difficulty started the day Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, and Guildford was one of the first towns to offer this service.

Back then the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) helped people with wartime rationing queries, blackout regulation and debt problems. The organisation has not stood still, and today advises people on a wide range of issues including the complexities of changes to the benefits system, employment, housing issues, and debt.

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A peek inside Guildford’s Citizens Advice Bureau in about the late 1940s when it was in the Municipal Buildings in the High Street. Picture courtesy of the John Gay collection held by English Heritage.

Today, the borough of Guildford has two CABs – one in the town centre and another in Ash. CABs are sometimes perceived as being run by the public sector, yet the two serving Guildford are independent with charity status. However, they continue to be funded by Guildford Borough Council, a commitment from the local authority to its residents that goes back to the very beginning.

The Guildford bureau opened on September 11, 1939, in the council’s Municipal Buildings in the Upper High Street. Very soon it moved to a vacant shop unit next door. The Government had asked local councils and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations to set up these agencies and Guildford Town Council seconded a member of staff, H. Austin Bristow, as advisor, along with a secretary. Later an assistant, Avis Rutter, joined the team.

An earlier logo of the Citizens Advice Bureau, giving the image of a wise old owl at work!

An earlier logo of the Citizens Advice Bureau, giving the image of a wise old owl at work!

The staff received no special training for the job in hand and Mr Bristow interviewed those who were seeking advice in a formal style sitting at his desk. The premises was somewhat cramped, with Miss Rutter having to use the kitchen to conduct interviews when it was busy.

In comparing just how different things are now, the manager of the Guildford CAB, Joan O’Byrne, said: “CABs are still at the forefront of helping people with problems largely caused by change, but today we have highly trained and experienced advisors dealing with all kinds of problems for all kinds of people.

CAB logo“We deal with urgent and important problems faced by people as well as providing longer term support through our core services and specific funded projects. We support people with health issues through our Macmillan and mental health projects, and with money problems through our Homelessness Prevention and Poyle Money Advice projects. We work with other bureaux in the area as part of Citizens Advice Surrey and are a local centre for Healthwatch and the Local Assistance Scheme.”

Right from the start the CAB has used it knowledge of the situations that its clients face to influence policymakers to change unfair practices. Changes to rationing and extra clothing coupons for pregnant women were brought in during the war thanks to the CAB. In 2014 the Financial Conduct Authority introduced tough new rules on payday lenders in the light of a campaign by the CAB nationally.

In the post-war years CABs found themselves giving advice to people on how to access the then new National Health Service. Back then a slogan was used to promote and alert people to the CAB: “Use your Citizens Advice Bureau, if you don’t know the address ask a policeman or a postman.”

The Rent Act of 1957 saw an increase in enquiries to the CAB across the UK, and by the 1960s a quarter of enquiries related to housing.

Guildford CAB moved from the Upper High Street to offices in North Street in 1965. This is now occupied by the Laura Ashley store and previously had been a police station. The bureau had a reception on the ground floor and interview rooms and an office upstairs.

Introduction of decimalisation in 1971 saw many people asking the CAB for advice on this new system of currency.

But Guildford CAB did not remain in North Street long, before moving again in the 1970s to share premises at the then police station in Woodbridge Road.

That next move was to Guildford CAB’s current home in Haydon Place. The building was newly built although only the ground floor was occupied at first, as the upstairs was home to the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service and the Community Health Council. Today both floors are occupied.

Ash CAB opened in July 1979, in an annexe of the Victoria Hall. There had been calls to open a bureau in Ash for some years, and the campaigning by Rosemary Hall, a Guildford Borough Councillor and a member of Guildford CAB’s management committee, certainly helped see it come to fruition. She said at the time: “We have been hoping for the past five years to get something going in Ash, but there was nowhere to go.”

The earlier mentioned Avis Rutter of Guildford CAB became the new Ash centre’s organiser tasked with setting up the bureau, which opened with five advisors. It then moved to a portable building where it was based for 12 years before moving in 2000 to offices within the then new Ash Centre.

Today it serves a large population on the western edge of the borough of Guildford. It is a handy place for local people to call into, saving them a trip to Guildford town centre.

Members of the team at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Ash.

Members of the team at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Ash.

Outlining some of the services offered at Ash, The bureau manager Vicky Payne said: “We deal with a good deal of debt cases, some of these being referrals from Guildford Borough Council. We help people with their rent arrears and give them advice on budgeting and managing their finances. It is advice that helps prevent further problems in people’s lives.

“We have an independent living advisor who sees clients who are housebound and not able to get to the bureau, while two other members of our staff are engaged in preventing people becoming homeless.”

Ash is a mixed community and Vicky says it also has one of the largest traveller communities in the UK. She said that those coming to the area and making a permanent home here often need help and advice about settling in – Ash CAB works with them on all of that.

Vicky added: “We are a small bureau here in Ash and somewhat unusual in not being at a high street location. Some of our clients have been coming to us for many years. We have an excellent team of volunteer advisors, and generally once they come here they stay! We are proud of our volunteers and we train about five new volunteer advisors each year.”

Nationally, debt and benefit enquiries doubled at CABs in line with unemployment in the 1980s, while in the 1990s the Habitual Residence Test saw an increase in asylum seekers asking for advice. Bankruptcy and repossessions were key issues in the 2000s.

Since Guildford CAB has been in Haydon Place and the Ash CAB has been open many changes in the way client information is processed has taken place – from a paper filing system (that took up a two large bookcases at Guildford) to a national CAB computer system called Adviser Net, which is continually being developed.

Some of the current staff and volunteers based at Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau.

Some of the current staff and volunteers based at Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau.

Maire (pronounced ‘Moya’) Young has been a volunteer advisor at Guildford CAB for 26 years. Initially, volunteering one day a week, after six she years she became a trainer of new volunteers. Of the advice that Guildford CAB regularly gives she said: “We advise people on issues of benefits, the system of which often changes. Debt issues hit the South East quite late in recent times, and that is now quite a large portion of our work. Housing problems are huge. There are many people in Guildford who can’t afford to live here. To be a ‘have not’ is really tough.”

Maire’s work was recognised with a CAB Volunteer of the Year Award in 1999, and Princess Anne presented it to her at a special ceremony at the Barbican in London.

Her advice work once took her outside the Guildford bureau to clients at Brookwood mental hospital. The work she did there eventually saw to a paid person taking on the role. She has also worked with clients at Farnham Road Hospital in Guildford and the Canterbury Centre in Watenden Road.

She added: “I have found the work I do very rewarding and satisfactory. Where would a person go without the CAB?”

Today many people contact their CAB by phone and by email – things that were certainly not available 75 years ago. Joan O’Byrne adds: “In 2013-14 across Guildford, we (Ash and ourselves) saw over 6,000 people with over 19,000 different problems.  While in just one quarter (March to June 2014) more than 12,000 internet users in Guildford made over 16,000 visits to our Adviceguide website.

“The website covers a wide range of topics and nationally received nearly 55 million site views over the last year.”

Guildford CAB, 15 to 21 Haydon Place GU1 4LL, is open on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 4pm. Thursday from 10am to 6.30pm, and Saturday from 10am to noon.

Telephone: 01483 576699.

Website: www.guildfordcab.org.uk

Ash CAB, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre), offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Telephone: 01252 315569.

Website: www.ashcab.org.uk

Rape And Sexual Abuse Support Centre Exploring How It Can Best Support Clients

Guildford-based RASASC, the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, has presented the first in a series of events exploring how it can best support its clients.

Held at Guildford YMCA, the first in the series, titled Sexual Abuse – What every professional should knowtook place last month. More than 70 participants from a wide variety of professions attended, including counsellors, psychotherapists, police officers, NHS staff, midwives, drug and alcohol abuse support and survivors.

rasasconlyThe focus of this event was to bring together a wide range of professionals from different settings to share their expertise in working with survivors.

RASASC believes that through initiating dialogue we can widen our perspective about sexual abuse and understand more about what helps and hinders survivors in disclosing their experiences and getting the help they need.

The event provided participants with the opportunity to network, share their experiences and engage with the speakers.

Sally Hutton and Susan Cowan opened proceedings with an overview of the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service provided by RASASC. As part of the team of four ISVAs at RASASC providing practical and emotional support to male and female survivors aged 13 and over, no two days are the same.

Sally explained: “Our service is all about choice. We help survivors make informed decisions, which may be about reporting to the police or accessing counselling. We also signpost survivors to other agencies such as sexual health, housing, substance misuse and provide support at appointments, for example at the Sexual Assault Referral Centre if a client chooses to give forensic medical evidence.

“Although accepting support can be very difficult, we know about the difficulties people may face coming to terms with the effects of rape and sexual abuse. We can talk through their feelings, what they may expect to feel, and support them in their ongoing relationships with friends, family and employers. Nothing can change what has happened to our clients, but we can help change how they feel now and in the future.”

Ian Cole MSc works with Virgin Care as a development worker for gay and bisexual men. In his presentation he explored the implications of gender expectation, and particularly the impact this can have on how survivors access support services. In a society that conveys strong gender stereotypes from birth, such as ‘Men are supposed to be able to protect themselves’, it is perhaps little surprise that men are less likely to report rape, and many find it easier to blame themselves than to accept they can be overpowered.

Dino Nocivelli, a solicitor with Bolt Burdon Kemp.

Dino Nocivelli, a solicitor with Bolt Burdon Kemp.

The following presentation, by Dino Nocivelli, a solicitor with Bolt Burdon Kemp, provided insight into the impact of child abuse and the legal process of submitting a civil claim. The impact of abuse on survivors’ lives is often life-long and far reaching – affecting their relationships, job prospects and physical and emotional wellbeing. A civil claim seeks to go some way in compensating a survivor for the trauma they have suffered, and helping them to rebuild their lives.

Chris Tuck.

Chris Tuck.

Participants then heard from the inspirational Chris Tuck, an author and health coach. Drawing from personal experience, Chris spoke of how abuse affects an individual’s health and wellbeing.

Exercise and good nutrition continue to play a key role in Chris’s recovery. Chris also spoke about how those who have suffered abused in childhood may need extra support parenting their own children in later life, as further detailed in her autobiography Through The Eyes of a Child and Parenting Without Tears.

Zoe Lodrick.

Zoe Lodrick.

The final presentation of the day was delivered by Zoe Lodrick, a sexual trauma specialist. She explored the psychology of both the offender and the victim, addressing the complex processes that result in victims’ becoming ensnared in abuse dynamics. Zoe highlighted the vital importance of professionals and services both noticing and providing appropriate support to exploited young people.

RASASC is hosting its next event on Saturday, March 28, titled Experiences of women survivors: what have we learnt?, which aim to build on the discussions that have already taken place and explore in greater depth the needs of survivors and the most appropriate approaches for their care and support.

RASASC’s core services include a confidential helpline, face-to-face counselling and Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) services. All services are open to male and female survivors, and those that care for a survivor.

The helpline is operated by trained female volunteers. Each volunteer undertakes a 10-week training course that equips them with the skills and knowledge necessary to support callers in whatever way they need. They provide a listening service, but can also provide information about other support available, or simply talk to someone about their day. All calls are treated with the strictest confidence.

RASASC counsellors support around 76 clients every week. Survivors of rape and sexual abuse can access face-to-face counselling for up to two years, as well as attend group sessions.

Family and friends of survivors are also able to access support. New services introduced in 2014 include youth counselling, for survivors aged 13 to 16, and crisis counselling. All counsellors are fully qualified and give their time voluntarily.

Independent Sexual Violence Advisors are specially trained and can support and advise survivors of rape and sexual abuse, regardless of when it happened.  They have knowledge of the choices survivors can make, for example they can explain police procedures, reporting, court, counselling and signpost appropriate medical services. They can also accompany survivors to appointments, the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) or court. Survivors’ wellbeing is their priority, and ISVAs will provide support whether their client decides to report to the police or not.

In 2014 the RASASC ISVA service took on more than 300 new clients from across Surrey, and to meet this increasing demand the team has recently doubled from two to four.

Rape or sexual abuse can affect people in many different ways. At RASASC, each survivor is treated as an individual, and support is tailored to their individual needs. Rebecca French, RASASC spokesperson said: “It takes tremendous courage for survivors to make the first move and seek support. All RASASC staff and volunteers will listen carefully, supportively and without judgement. We are there to inform and support survivors in their decisions.”

The RASASC Helpline is open six evenings, 12 hours a week (Sunday to Friday, 7.30pm to 9.30pm), and receives more than 2,000 calls a year. The number is 01483 546400 or national freephone 0800 0288 022.

For further information about RASASC services, call 01483 568000 or visit www.rasasc-guildford.org.

Free confidence building courses for jobseekers

Free courses are being held to help people gain confidence when applying for a job.

They are being run by the ETHOS project that is part of the Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership.

The first of the five-week courses is taking place on Friday afternoons from February 27 to March 27, at 109 Southway, Westborough. That is the premises in the parade of shops that is also home to the Guildford Bike project.

Topics to be covered in the course will be:

  • Do you want to feel more confident when applying for a job?
  • Do you want to break down your own employment barriers?
  • Do you want practice at team work?

For more details call Rosalind on 07904 909013 or send her an email to rosalind@surreyllp.org.uk

 

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Free sessions to help children cope with family break-ups

Help for children in emotional distress over family break-ups is being offered in a group session format starting in Guildford on March 5.

Surrey Family & mediationSurrey Family & Mediation Services, a non-for-profit charity with more than 30 years experience, has places available for the next phase of its free support programme.

Christine Peters from the organisation said: “Family separation or parental divorce is very difficult for children whatever their age.

“Often children are angry, confused, frightened, anxious and deeply sad which can lead to challenging behaviour both at home and in school. For the last eight years we have provided a unique free of charge counselling service dedicated to the support of children whose parents are either in the process of separating and divorcing or who separated some time in the past.”

The group courses are for children aged six to 13 years who might need additional emotional support to understand the changes happening in their family.

The courses are on a rolling programme and after March the next groups will start in May.
The service is funded by The BIG Lottery.

sfms-logoParents are encouraged to refer direct, call 01372 749911, with no need to go through a GP or school. Parents are also supported and offered a two-hour meeting to discuss what their children need and are given tips and ideas on how to support their children.

Most sessions are in school time. The service has a good working relationship with local schools that are generally supportive of the results the service has achieved. Each child is given a letter for their teacher, which explains where they are and what they are doing.

Christine adds: “One little boy who attended the service was grateful for the support he received and said that he could now understand that his mum and dad both loved him although their feelings for each other had changed.

“He realised that he could not ‘stick them back together’ and was delighted in the prospect of having two homes and two birthdays.

New groups for children will also be starting in March in Woking, Chertsey and Epsom, all with places available.

More details at Surrey Family & Mediation Service’s website.

Notice: Guildford CAB – Membership Of Board Of Trustees

Guildford’s Citizens Advice Bureau has been providing advice to residents of Guildford borough for over 75 years.

CAB 1Our status as a charity and company limited by guarantee means our work is supported by grants and voluntary donations, and overseen by a board of trustees.

We are keen to enhance the diversity of our board and to attract new trustees who have the skills needed and relevant experience particularly of Guildford borough and the value of the voluntary sector.

If you are interested in the role and would like to find out more about the bureau please visit our website, view our charity listing (1061067) or even visit the bureau where Joan, our manager, will be happy to talk through what we do.

To be considered formally for the role please send a brief profile (no more than one side of A4) outlining your relevant qualifications and experience to the chairman, Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau, 15-21 Haydon Place, Guildford GU1 4LL.

Closing date March 31, 2015.

Furniture Link Has So Much To Offer – For Customers And Its Staff

By Anna Valentina 

Every now and then people move house or just clear it – for whichever reason. Often lots of things are dumped or perhaps recycled. They may also be donated to charity.

Now, Guildford-based Furniture Link is offering the whole clearance process.

Operations manager Wendy Watson and Neil Mason.

Operations manager Wendy Watson and chief executive Neil Mason.

Furniture Link says its service is cheaper than other commercial services. The removed furniture is then sold to people who want to furnish their homes cost effectively. Plus, it provides back-to-work volunteering opportunities.

Neil Mason, who runs Furniture Link, with its showroom and warehouse on Guildford’s Cathedral Hill business park, says: “We ask for a donation to cover the cost of collection”.

Neil promises that everything is checked and then recycled, refurbished and reused whenever possible.

All sorts of things for the home can be found in the showroom.

All sorts of things for the home can be found in the showroom.

The showroom’s staff and volunteers always do their best to refurbish the furniture – a broken drawer or dangling door on a cupboard is not a problem, while all electrical appliances will be PAT tested and if possible function tested.

After that, the donated items of furniture will make their way to the showroom.

Books, crockery or furniture - everything is for sale.

Books, crockery or furniture – everything is for sale.

Typical prices are not high, and most of the price tags carry figures in the £25 to £50 range.

Neil said: “We offer a very wide selection of items, so anyone can find something for their taste and their pocket.”

The efficiency of the Furniture Link store is due, in part, to the generous help of the volunteers. About twenty of them are sparing some 600 hours per month there.

There is a corner for bicycles for sale!

There is a corner for bicycles for sale!

They do all sorts of work: repair the furniture, test white goods, greet customers and clean the showroom, drive the van and deliver purchases. For some, this activity is vital to them.

Furniture Link is supported by Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council: they have made it possible for the enterprise to give a hand to those who have found themselves in difficult circumstances and would like to return to a normal life.

Those who have had troubles with the law, or maybe have become addicted to drugs or alcohol, find it important to have the opportunity of a job, to gain some work experience, to obtain good references. Even to just be involved, to get a different life and make friends is extremely important.

I had an interesting talk to one of them – a pleasant young man who confessed to once being in prison. He has shown good behaviour and was permitted to undertake some volunteering work in the showroom for the last few months.

He really appreciates the chance he has had:  He said: “Here I have understood that I don’t want to continue what I used to do. I would like to change my life for good. And as I like helping here so much, I would be happy to get a job in the shop from what I’ve learnt at Furniture Link.”

This is quite possible: some former volunteers have already received permanent positions in the showroom. According to Neil, Furniture Link’s business is growing and the project will be able to hire more employees: six new positions were made available during the last 18 months alone.

Like some of his colleagues Tony McNamara was a volunteer before becoming a full-time driver forFurniture Link.

Like some of his colleagues, Tony McNamara was a volunteer before becoming a full-time driver forFurniture Link.

For more details about Furniture Link and the services it offers and the furniture it has for sale, call Natasha on 01483 506504.

The showroom is open from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Saturdays.

Website: www. furniturelinkguildford.com

Citizens Advice Bureau’s Home Visits Make A Difference In Ash

Housebound residents in Ash who are unable to get to their local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or those facing eviction are benefitting from a service in which an advisor makes a home visit to them.

Ash CAB is helping a range of people, struggling with problems such as debt worries or benefits claims. In some instances it might be a carer of someone who can’t be left alone for a period of time or someone who is at risk. All age groups can be affected.

Ash CAB's

Ash CAB’s independent living advisor Sally De-Merist, makes home visits to advise those in need. She also gives specialist advice as part of the bureau’s homelessness prevention service.

Sally De-Merist is Ash CAB’s independent living advisor who makes home visits to advise those in need. She also gives specialist advice as part of the bureau’s homelessness prevention service.

She said: “I usually have some details about the type of advice a client needs before I visit them. Seeing people in their homes often helps, as I can see the situation they are living in. Some feel more relaxed in their own space, which helps them to talk about the issues they are facing.”

Often the client’s issue will need a good deal of work before it can be resolved, so Sally gets any relevant paperwork together to take back to the office.

A couple who are aged in their thirties with a large family and living in council accommodation requested a home visit. Two members of the family have health problems.

The family had been hit by a cap on benefits paid to them and were experiencing a shortfall of £130 per week on their rent. The father had given up work to look after the children due to his wife’s deteriorating health. Her claim for disability living allowance had been refused.

Ash CAB helped with the preparation of an appeal on behalf of the family and an advisor attended a tribunal with a member of the family. The appeal was upheld and the award backdated. The husband can now claim carer’s allowance backdated to the same date. The benefit cap no longer applies, so the family is now entitled to full housing benefit and can continue to live in their home. Benefits gained totaled £17,000.

Sally and fellow advisor Allison Redit both help clients who face eviction from their homes. They advise clients on how they can maximize their incomes, making them aware of entitlements they can claim, and helping them to solve their debt problems. If clients are unemployed, help is also given about getting back into work.

CAB 1Sally said: “Some people are not aware of what benefits they are entitled to, while older people often feel pride and are hesitant about claiming benefits that they are fully entitled to. We help explain all this to them.

“It is a shame that people leave important issues to the last minute. It’s when they come to a point where there seems like there is no other way out.

“We liaise closely with staff at Guildford Borough Council when we are helping clients with rent arrears. Letting the council staff know that we are working with a client often means they will allow more time for the issue to be resolved.”

Another client that Ash CAB has helped had rent and council tax arrears. It was discovered that she had very little money and no food in her house and that her fridge was not working.

Initially referred to Ash CAB by Guildford Family Support, the bureau gave her a food parcel and made an application to the local assistance scheme for a re-conditioned fridge that was soon delivered.

A benefit check revealed that the woman should have been receiving an additional £3,015 a year in child tax credit, but she had failed to inform the Department of Work and Pensions that her son was disabled.

Ash CAB continues to work with her over other debts that are not a high priority. The good news is, the woman has told her CAB advisor that she is much less stressed now and is very grateful for the help she is receiving.

Ash CAB is based at the Ash Centre.

Ash CAB is based at the Ash Centre, Ash Hill Road.

Advisors Sally and Allison are staff members, but both started at Ash CAB as volunteers. In fact, Allison had used the services of the bureau herself and wanted to put something back after the help she received.

Sally said: “As a team we work well together and we love the work we do helping people.”

Ash CAB’s independent living advice service is being funded for 2015-16 by Guildford Borough Council’s Voluntary Grants Panel.

Ash CAB, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre), offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Telephone: 01252 315569.

Website: www.ashcab.org.uk

If The Temperature Drops Age UK Surrey Can Help

A staggering 550 older people in Surrey die needlessly every year because of the cold according to the Office of National Statistics. Age UK Surrey is warning that protection against the icy conditions is vital for older people who are particularly vulnerable to the impact of low temperatures.

age-uk-surrey-logoA fall in temperature can bring on sleepiness and confusion in older people, who may not realise that they are at risk. An Age UK Surrey’s winter campaign includes a free offer of a Handyman Service in most Surrey areas to help insulate homes for older people and colour coded, easy to read thermometers and information about what to do to help keep warm inside and outside of the home.

The thermometers help to alert the user when action is needed: for example; when the thermometer moves to blue it is advisable to: Turn up the heating if possible, move around, make a hot drink and put on a hat, gloves, warmer socks and a blankets.

The Age UK Surrey stick-on thermometers are available from its head office at Rex House, William Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 4QZ (donation appreciated).

The cold can raise blood pressure which puts older people at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes. It also increases the likelihood and severity of flu, chest infections and other respiratory problems.

Age UK Surrey chief executive officer Sue Zirps said: “A cold home poses a serious health risk and with energy bills increasing, older people will be struggling to heat their homes but could be missing out on essential extra support.”

Age UK Surrey is urging anyone who is worried about their heating bills to contact them for further information and advice. For those in receipt of pension credit, a prolonged cold snap triggers one-off cold weather payments worth £25 which could make all the difference when deciding whether to turn the heating up.

It also adds that it is also really important that everyone checks in on older friends, relatives and neighbours regularly, making sure paths are cleared and shopping is bought if needed.

For more information about where to get a thermometer and to support the campaign ring Elizabeth Whiddett on 01483 446667.

Email:  elizabeth.whiddett@ageuksurrey.org.uk

website: www.ageuksurrey.org.uk or Facebook.

Pilot Scheme Links Citizens Advice Bureau And GP Surgeries

A new pilot initiative will see local advice providers offering their services within number of doctors’ surgeries in Guildford.

Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) advisers will be a key part of the service with other advice agencies, such as Age UK Surrey, also taking part at some locations.

Sally Taylorson who is leading the pilot scheme for Guildford Advice Services.

Sally Taylorson who is leading the pilot scheme for Guildford Advice Services.

The service is aiming to make it easier for people to get access to advice. By placing advisers in GP surgeries, it can help doctors to help patients with social and financial problems that could impair their health if they are not addressed. It is an early intervention, designed to prevent people from becoming ill due to social problems.

The Dapdune House Surgery in Wharf Road will take part in the initial phase of the pilot along with two of the Guildown Group Practice’s surgeries – The Oaks in Park Barn and Stoughton Road.

The pilot is being co-ordinated by Guildford Advice Services (GAS), a Big Lottery Funded project that is aiming to improve access to advice for people in the borough of Guildford.

Sally Taylorson is leading the pilot for GAS. She will be liaising with the advisers and surgeries throughout the project and visiting them regularly, assisting the staff and the people who use the service.

She said: “There has been a good deal of enthusiasm about this initiative – from the GPs practices, advice agencies and those in the local community we have spoken with.”

“We want to try to prevent people who are unwell from going into that downward spiral of ill health should they be experiencing other problems in their lives.”

CAB 1The CAB’s advice and up-to-date information is wide ranging ­­– from housing issues and benefits to debt problems, education and welfare. Advice is always free, independent, confidential and impartial. Age UK Surrey also deal with a wide range of subjects, supporting people 50-plus and their friends and family.

Sally said that there are similar projects running in GPs surgeries in other areas of the UK, which have proven to be extremely beneficial. One in Derbyshire, running for many years, sees advisers in 94 of the county’s 102 GP surgeries.

She added: “After the six-month pilot here in Guildford, the benefits that the project has delivered will be assessed and we hope that it will continue and grow.”

Free Cycle Safety Packs And Road Advice From Community Wardens

People from Stoke and Stoughton who use bicycles can have a free safety pack, containing a lock and useful high visibility reflective items.

Guildford Borough Council community wardens Garry Jones and Andy Coumbe with items in the free cycle safety packs.

Guildford Borough Council community wardens Garry Jones and Andy Coumbe with items in the free cycle safety packs.

But hurry, as there is only a limited supply available from Guildford Borough Council community wardens Garry Jones and Andy Coumbe.

A grant from Surrey County Council’s Travel SMART scheme has funded 400 packs to be distributed in the Stoughton and Stoke areas of Guildford. Over the past year Garry and Andy have been handing them out to people and also to schools, where they have been encouraging pupils to cycle while at the same time giving them good road safety advice.

Andy said: “During National Road Safety Week in November we visited Weyfield Primary School in Bellfields and Northmead Primary School in Stoughton and gave out flashing wrist bands to all the children.

“The road safety advice we give to the children includes how to use a pedestrian crossing correctly – by always looking and listening, and where to cycle and use a scooter.”

Many people have told the two community wardens how useful the packs are, and 40 packs will shortly be given to students at Christ’s College in Larch Avenue.

If you would like more details about receiving a free pack, or if you would like some road safety advice from the wardens, call Andy Coumbe on 07901 513560, or send an email to Andy.Coumbe@guildford.gov.uk

He can deliver the packs to you in the Stoke and Stoughton area.

Guildford Repair Café Helping To Get Things Fixed And Not Thrown Away

What do you do with a bike when the wheel runs out of true? Or with trousers the wrong length? Throw it away? No way!

Repair CafeGo and repair it at the Repair Café taking at Park Barn Community Centre, Cabell Road, Guildford GU2 8JH on Saturday, February 14, from 10am to 1pm.

Various experts will be available:, including those with DIY skills, seamstresses and bike doctors, to help you make all possible repairs, free of charge.

Everyone is welcome to go along and they will need to bring their broken items – such as clothes, bikes, toys, crockery, chairs, and so on.

You’ll learn how to repair items yourself, receive practical advice and meet others, be inspired and share ideas.

By promoting repairs, Guildford Borough Council aims to help reduce waste sent to landfill as well as helping people save money and resources, and cutting CO2 emissions.

For queries call Cati Smith,Guildford Borough Council’s community climate change officer on 01483 444509 or email her at cati.smith@guildford.gov.uk

Repair Cafe flyer poster 14 Feb 2015small

House rules:

The work carried out in the Repair Café is performed free of charge on a voluntary basis by the repair experts at hand. Visitors carry out the repairs themselves whenever possible, but repair experts on site can help if necessary. Neither the organisers of the Repair Café nor the repair experts are liable for any loss that may result from advice or instructions concerning repairs, for the loss of items handed over for repair, for consequential loss or for any other kind of loss resulting from work performed in the Repair Café. A voluntary donation is greatly appreciated. Visitors offering broken items for repair do so at their own risk. Experts making repairs offer no guarantee for the repairs carried out with their help and are not liable if objects that are repaired in the Repair Café turn out not to work properly at home. Repair experts are entitled to refuse to repair certain objects. Repair experts are not obliged to reassemble disassembled appliances that cannot be repaired. Visitors to Repair Café are solely responsible for the tidy removal of broken objects that could not be repaired. To cut down on unnecessary waiting times during busy periods, a maximum of one broken item per person will be examined. The visitor will join the back of the queue if there is a second item for  repair.

Charity that helps people in debt is expecting a rush of calls

Christians Against Poverty (CAP), a charity that helps people with debt problems and with a centre in Guildford, is bracing itself for more calls for help than ever before.

It reports that the post-Christmas rush to get finances sorted has begun in earnest.

CAP's Guildford centre manager Jane Seals.

CAP’s Guildford centre manager Jane Seals.

Rather than the mythical peak known as ‘Blue Monday’ on January 19, the charity actually receives the most calls for debt help on the second Monday in February which this year lands on February 9.

Guildford centre manager Jane Seals, who is based at Westborough URC Church, said.“Every week, the busiest day for debt help calls is a Monday, when people have had time over the weekend to resolve to seek help.

“We see a rise in calls during January and February because most people can’t face tackling their finances before Christmas. When these two elements come together, we see our busiest time. As our reach extends to more areas, with more debt coaches, we are set to see more people booked in than ever before.”

Already in the first working week of 2015, CAP received 479 calls for debt help. The Guildford centre is currently booked up until the middle of February.

Recent research from CAP has shown that people often struggle for years with personal debt following income changes caused by events such as losing a job or a relationship breakdown.

Jane added: “Four in 10 people believe that no one can help them with their debts, according to some research we’ve done. It can feel like you’ve hit a brick wall but we see ‘impossible’ situations where people get their debts cleared. There are people to help and it can get sorted, however complicated or dire it seems.”

Anyone calling CAP for help rings 0800 328 0006, and are booked in for a home visit from Jane, who spends time learning what has happened and shows a way forward out of debt.

Then all the person’s outstanding bills and letters from creditors are sent to CAP’s head office in Bradford. The charity negotiates with each creditor on behalf of the client and draws up a budget to begin to repay what is owed.

Jane said: “Anyone having sleepless nights, unable to afford the basics or worried about meeting their rent or mortgage should call us, or one of the other good free debt agencies, and see how we can help.”

Call CAP on 0800 328 0006 or visit capuk.org

Citizens Advice Bureau braced for surge of new year debt inquiries

Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau is expecting a surge in people getting help with debt problems.

Figures from the national charity predict that more than 2,000 people a day will get debt help from Citizens Advice Bureaux across the UK in the first part of 2015.

CAB 1Christine Parrott from Guildford CAB has 10 top tips on how to deal with debt.

1. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Dealing with debt problems is easier the smaller they are, so take action before they start to spiral out of control.

2. Think very carefully before you take out more credit or a loan to cover your debt

3. Talk to your creditors and let them know you are having problem

4. Don’t pay off the person who is shouting the loudest, but pay the most important ones like mortgage or rent; council tax; and gas and electricity. Otherwise you will be in danger of losing your home, having your gas and electricity cut off; or ending up in court and possibly prison.

5. Don’t ignore court papers

6. Get advice on benefits, tax credits and other help you may be entitled toif you are struggling.  A bureau adviser can check if you are missing out on additional income and help you make a claim

7.Look carefully at your spending, see if there is anything you are able to cut down on and draw up a realistic budget.

8. Work out how much you can realistically afford to pay.

9. Start planning ahead for next Christmas now. Putting aside a little money each week could cover the cost of next Christmas and mean you don’t have to take out loans.

10. Don’t pay for advice. Citizens Advice gives free, independent and confidential advice. They will help you work out repayments and negotiate with your creditors, and also help you keep out of debt in the future.

Mrs Parrott said: “During the festive season, dealing with debt is often the last thing on people’s minds. Now that Christmas is over and into the new year, we expect to see many clients who realise they must face up to debts and bring their finances back under control. Problems can get worse if they aren’t tackled early, so if you are worried that you may not be able to cope then seek help as soon as possible.”

If you need advice on how to sort out a debt problem, Citizens Advice can help. Get online help from adviceguide.org.uk or contact your local bureau.

Telephone Guildford CAB on 01483 576699

Guildford CAB opens for face-to-face advice at 10am every day except Sundays, and closes at 4 pm except on Thursdays (open to 6pm) and Saturdays (open to noon). You are advised to arrive at least 30 minutes before closing time.

Cyclist wants to encourage other by offering free training and advice

A keen cyclist from Guildford is planning to offer free cycle training as he believes that more people would ride a bike if they had the confidence and road awareness.

Terry Duckmanton, who lives off the Aldershot Road, says: “Now that I have retired, I have time available to carry out a small scale experiment to see what happens when people are offered free cycle training.

Terry Duckmanton pictured in the slip road off Aldershot Road near the shops and Southway.

Terry Duckmanton pictured in the slip road off Aldershot Road near the shops and Southway.

“What I can offer is training to a group of five or six people in the Westborough area of Guildford. If you live within walking or cycling distance of the Co-op shop on Aldershot Road, then you could be one of them. The offer is open to everyone living in this area, if you would like to be able to cycle into town and back on your own – after suitable training of course.”

Terry says he is always amazed by the fact that so few people in the UK use bicycles for transport. He adds: “We are constantly being told that lack of exercise is very bad for our health and is costing the NHS an awful lot of money, but as a nation we continue to default to the family car as the normal form of transport.

“The average home to work distance for most people in the UK was nine miles in 2011 (from census data), a distance which can easily be cycled, but very few do. For the last 13 years of my working life I was cycling 11 miles each way between Guildford and Effingham, except in high winds or heavy snow. This saved me a lot of money and kept me reasonably fit and, as a bonus, commuting was actually fun.”

At that time Terry worked at a school. He says that some parents were keen that their children should be capable of cycling to school and enrolled them on an after school Bikeability (https://bikeability.dft.gov.uk) course which was provided by a group of staff members who had been trained as National Standard Cycling Instructors.

Terry adds: “I was a member of this group and enjoyed watching the trainees blossom into capable cyclists who were able and indeed willing to mix in with the traffic in and around Effingham. Sadly, this course was offered only to students, and the parents had to contribute to the cost of training.

“I often wonder what the take-up would have been if the course had been totally free of charge to both students and parents. I like to think that we would have been totally overwhelmed by the number of applicants with a satisfying increase in the number of confident cyclists in the Effingham area. Some councils do actually offer free cycle training, sadly Guildford Borough and Surrey County are not among them.”

As well as wanting to hear from anyone who would like some cycle training, Terry would also like to speak to anyone who feels that they would like to be trained to be a volunteer instructor to others.

He would also be interested in offering training in simple bicycle maintenance and, along with the cycle training, ideally wants to keep all costs down to zero if possible.

He adds: “The structure of the course itself would be tailored to the needs of the individual trainees, but would always aim towards the goal of being able to cycle into Guildford and back to Westborough.

Guildford Dragon NEWS contributor David Rose is also the co-ordinator of the Joining In! project (managed by Voluntary Action South West Surrey) that supports community involvement in the Westborough ward of Guildford. He says: “I am also a regular cyclist and I identify exactly with what Terry is saying about how more people could be encouraged take up cycling and his plans to offer good and accredited training.

“Joining In! has been set up to help and encourage people of all ages to take part and volunteer in more activities in their community and for groups, organisations and individuals to help and support one another.

“I have already spoken to The Guildford Bike Project and have put Terry in touch with them. The project’s recently revamped shop and community hub in Southway may well be the perfect venue for Terry to be based for his cycle training and bike maintenance courses, and where other volunteers could be based, once trained.

“It’s an exciting project that I hope will be well supported. I have also linked up Terry with Becky Willson at Surrey County Council. Some will know her locally as its engagement officer for its Travel SMART initiative, but she is also now the county council’s ‘cycling supremo’.

If you live in the Westborough area would like some cycle training, or would like to be a volunteer, or just would like some more information, email Terry Duckmanton at terry.duckmanton@ntlworld.com

You can also contact David Rose at drosedragon@gmail.com who will pass details on to Terry.

Council Tax – A Christmas Reminder From The CAB

WHEN the Christmas costs kick in it might be tempting to delay your monthly council tax payment, but don’t.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) points out that council tax must be paid every month, it can’t be put off like a payment on a credit card.

CAB 1If you miss a payment the council will send you a reminder and the payment must be made within seven days. If you don’t make the payment after a further seven days, the full amount of council tax for the rest of the year becomes due. If you still don’t pay, the council can apply to court for a liability order and it doesn’t have to remind you again.

Christine Parrott, the social policy and impact manager at Guildford CAB, said: “If you are having problems with your finances and are worried, don’t ignore the issue. You should inform the council if you can’t pay your council tax, and if you need further advice regarding debt, contact the CAB.”

The CAB also points out that if you’re late with three council tax payments during the year the whole sum for the year becomes payable. The council doesn’t have to send you another reminder and can take you to court immediately. Costs will be added to your bill if the council has to apply to the court.

Guildford Citizens Advice Bureau can be contacted on 01483 576699, and Ash Citizens Advice Bureau on 01252 315569. See their websites for more details: www.guildfordcab.org.uk or www.ashcab.org.uk

Age UK Surrey’s carol concert, Guildford Cathedral, Friday, December 19

ChristmasCarolMusic_H

Age UK Surrey is holding a carol service at Guildford Cathedral on Friday, December 19, at 2pm.

It promises to be an afternoon of traditional Christmas carols starting with O Come All Ye Faithful and including other favourites such as O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Hark The Herald Angels Sing, as well as other Christmas pieces performed by guest choirs – Surrey Cantata conducted by Maureen Galea, and Rydes Hill Preparatory School Choir conducted by Tessa Forbes.

They will be joined on the day by Jane Searle, soprano, and Jonathan Veira, guest reader.

age-uk-surrey-logoAll are welcome, free entry and car parking is available.

There is no need to book. However, if taking a large party call 01483 446646 or 446638, so seating can be reserved.

Also call if you require wheelchair access.

North Guildford food bank opening times for Christmas

The food back at the Cafe at St Clare’s Church, Southway, Park Barn (normally open Wednesday mornings from 8.45am to 10.45pm and Fridays from 5.30pm to 6.30pm) will be open in December on Wednesdays 10, 17, 24 and 31, and, Fridays 12 and 19.

foodbank_volunteers_ngfIt will not be open on Boxing Day, Friday, December 26, but will be open again on Friday January 2.

At Bellfields, the food bank (normally open Friday evenings from 6.30pm to 7.30pm) will be open at the New Hope Centre, next to Christ’s College in Larch Avenue, on Fridays, December 12 and 19 and then Friday, January 9.

At Merrow, the food bank (normally open Thursday afternoons from 4.30pm to 6.30pm) will be open at the Bushy Hill Community Centre in Bushy Hill Drive on Thursdays, December 20, and then on Thursday, January 9.

Ann Mather, who co-ordinates the North Guildford Food Bank project said: “We will be a little more relaxed on how many times people have visited us. We do not want people to be in need at this time of year whilst we have plenty of food.”

The North Guildford Food Bank project has been in operation for just over two years and in that time has fed more than 1,800 people, half of whom are children.

For more details see its website by clicking here.

Community Connectors Really Make A Difference To people’s Lives

A PROJECT that connects lonely or isolated elderly people with a ‘friend’ who helps them to overcome their difficulties is proving to be a vital free service in the north Guildford area.

Community Connectors has been operating for two years, but funding was running out. Now, courtesy of a £10,000 grant from the Poyle Trust, it can continue.

Community Connectors' co-ordinator Denise Graves (left) with Ray Ashcroft, who has participated and benefitted from the scheme, and Connector Pat Stacey.

Community Connectors’ co-ordinator Denise Graves (left) with Ray Ashcroft, who has participated and benefitted from the scheme, and Connector Pat Stacey.

The project is managed by Voluntary Action South West Surrey and is co-ordinated by Denise Graves. She recruits the volunteer Connectors and after initial training they are paired with an elderly person in need of help.

Denise said: “Our Connectors help in all kinds of ways. It may be just talking to that person, or taking them to the shops if they have lost the confidence themselves to go outdoors. In many cases it is assisting them so they obtain the right care package or liaising with social services or the council on their behalf.”

Preferring to refer to them as participants rather than clients, those manly elderly people in need are referred to Denise by a range of people within the local communities of Stoke, Stoughton and Westborough. She said: “We couldn’t do this work without the contact we have with local churches. People there get to know those in need. We also receive referrals from the council’s community wardens, the probation service, police community support officers and local residents.

Each Connector usually volunteers half a day a week for six or seven weeks with each elderly person. By the end of that time they hope to have resolved some of the issues at hand and perhaps helped them by introducing them and encouraging them (if they wish) to visit a local group, or in some cases to even become a Connector themselves. But the contact continues afterwards as Denise makes regular follow-up calls to those who have been helped.

Denise said: “When I first meet and talk with a person who needs our help I find they are often in crisis and angry. I ask them about their wellbeing and what would make a difference in their lives. People who are lonely often don’t see that in themselves.

“Some have animosity with local services – we help to bridge that gap.

“I then match that person with a Connector. Our Connectors are good listeners, non-judgmental and want to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

Describing some of the many ways they have helped, Denise added: “We helped one person move house, which has made such an improvement in her life. Another was given a lift to a chair-based exercise class at the Park Barn Centre, which was really appreciated. One man, who cares for his mother, hadn’t got out of his home much. The connector helped by linking him up with Crossroads Care Surrey that gives a break to people who are carers.

“We have helped people to receive refunds on their home care services. We can provide them with lots of literature and details of benefits and services they can access such as the Surrey Healthy Homes keep warm packs for winter. We have helped people through a bereavement and in some cases have found them volunteering roles that they have taken up as they adjust to a new way of life.”

Community Connectors is creating space in people’s lives in which they can solve some of the problems they are facing. Furthermore, the knowledge that comes from the problem solving often ripples out into the community, thus in turn benefitting others.

“Denise said: “The project is a learning curve for all of us involved as we age and things change in our lives. Although the project was set up for older people, we are also now working with people under the age of 40.

“We are always keen to recruit more Connectors, particularly men. And a young mum spoke to me recently saying that she walks past a flat each day and has noticed a woman standing on her balcony looking lonely. ‘Am I allowed to help?’ the mum asked me. Yes, of course she can.”

If you would like to become a Community Connector, or find out more about what’s involved, or if you or you know someone that may benefit from the service call Denise Graves at Voluntary Action South West Surrey on 01483 504626, or 07825 417204. Email: d.graves@vasws.org.uk

Website: http://www.voluntaryactionsws.webeden.co.uk/community-connectors/4572987345

Don’t dump your unwanted furniture – donate it to Furniturelink

A CHARITY that recycles, refurbishes and sells good quality pre-owned furniture and electrical goods for all needs more stock urgently.

Furniturelink is asking people in the Guildford area who may be replacing three-piece suites, beds, tables and chairs, and so, on, not to dump them, but donate them, so they can be found a new home.

Furniturelink's premises on the Cathedral Hill business park, Guildford.

Furniturelink’s premises on the Cathedral Hill business park, Guildford.

Neil Mason, who runs Furniturelink from its premises on the Cathedral Hill business park, Guildford, said: “We need more furniture to look after our clients’ needs. We take all kinds of furniture including chests of drawers, wardrobes, beds, and white goods too.

“We can collect from you, all we ask for is a donation of about £15 to cover our collections costs, or you can deliver to our warehouse.”

All soft furnishings must be fire proof compliant and electric goods must have a CC mark.

To arrange for items to be collected call Natasha on 01483 506504. Call the same number for more details and advice, and also if you are interested in buying items from Furniturelink.

The warehouse is open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 4pm on Saturdays.

Website: www.furniturelinkguildford.com