Staff and volunteers at Shetland’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) celebrated the 70th anniversary of the UK service on Monday, and are asking local people to come and join their team.
The Shetland branch has been in existence for 17 years and has grown and developed to such an extent that more volunteers are needed. The service plays a vital role in giving impartial advice in subjects ranging from benefit claims to debt problems, and a national poll showed it achieved a 98 per cent approval rating from the public.
Manager Les Irving said: “I want to appeal to anyone out there who has ever considered volunteering with a CAB. This is the time to come forward and join us. We are really under pressure right now. We have seen a considerable increase in demand because of the recession.
“Debt cases, employment and benefit problems are all on the increase, and many people have nowhere else to turn. So far this year, client demand has increased here by 17 per cent on the same period in 2008, yet our number of advisers has remained roughly the same as it was last year. If we are to continue offering our top-level service, that ratio cannot continue. We need more people to come in and volunteer.”
Mr Irving said prior experience was not necessary and they were looking for people from all ages and all backgrounds who had five or six hours per week to give. The training course would be pretty intensive, but was also good fun and rewarding.
He paid tribute to the many volunteers, past and present, who had staffed the office at Market House and previously in Commercial Street. They had kept the vital service going and inspired “extraordinary approval levels” from the public.
He said: “It’s a challenging place to work, but you won’t ever regret it. You learn new skills, meet lots of people, and the buzz you get from helping turning someone’s life around – seeing them enter the building in tears and then leave with a smile on their face – is indescribable. Come and be part of our next 70 years.”
The national CAB service began on 4th September 1939, the day after Britain joined the Second World War. During the war it dealt with things like forwarding Red Cross parcels and helping people whose homes had been destroyed by bombs.
The popular service survived into the post-war years as it became clear that people needed an organisation to help them deal with the new benefits system. Today, in the consumer age, it is also a vital life-line for people who are in debt and financial difficulty.
If anyone would like to help they can call (01595) 694696 for more information.