A boost to volunteer numbers has resulted in Citizens Advice Thanet being able to offer drop-in services for the first time since the pandemic began.
The drop-ins, which are presently limited on the number of people they can serve, take place at the Plains of Waterloo office in Ramsgate on Tuesday mornings from 9.30am – 12.30pm.
Chief officer Angela Drew-Robinson said: “Due to previous publicity attracting new trainee volunteers, we are now in a position to gradually start building up our Drop in Service.
“It is quite a big milestone for us as during the pandemic our volunteer numbers became depleted. We have slowly built the number up again and our volunteers are now at the stage where they can advise and we felt we could open our drop-in service
“We are still advising by other channels, and where needed, making appointments for face to face advice at our Margate and Ramsgate offices.”
Angela says the top issues people are currently seeking help for are tackling Personal Independence Payment applications; housing; cost of living and debt and relationship breakdowns.
She said: “One of the big issues is disability benefit PIP and helping people work out if they are eligible and how to apply. People are ill but they don’t know how to fill the forms in. They have to outline how the illness affects them and how that makes them different to someone the same age who is not ill, what they can’t do or what takes longer. People don’t realise they have to write all these sorts of things which means there are a lot of people who should get PIP but don’t, and this includes people with (poor) mental health.
“Second is housing, which has now pipped debt. I watched a YouTube video that put it really well saying “it is not a housing crisis, it is a humanitarian crisis.”
“There are section 21 (evictions) being served and issues with disrepair, that is not just in the private sector.
“Housing is so fundamental to all of us. If you are not housed and have no shelter you do not have the basics for living. It is such a mammoth issue to deal with, we need more suitable, affordable housing that is clean, safe and healthy to live in.
“Cost of living and debt is another issue. Not only is there the cost of living crisis but this is doubled up with rents rising very quickly for private rentals so it is really tough.
“People’s issues are complex, it isn’t just one thing. We have relationship breakdowns and this can result from financial problems, stress, housing and how that impacts on relationships.”
Find Citizens Advice Thanet online at https://thanetcitizensadvice.org/
Volunteers are still needed for the service which is not yet at pre-pandemic numbers.
If you are interested in volunteering for Citizens Advice Thanet, please email email@example.com.