Last week politicians gathered to celebrate and applaud the Citizens Advice service in Scotland at a Scottish Parliament reception.
On Wednesday 22 February 2017, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) hosted the annual reception at the Scottish Parliament to highlight the work of the Citizens Advice service in Scotland as a whole. Over 70 people were in attendance including MSPs, civil servants, CAS staff, Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) staff and volunteers and other external organisations.
The event, hosted by Gordon MacDonald MSP, provided an opportunity for staff and bureaux to engage with senior and local parliamentarians and highlight the excellent work undertaken by the Citizens Advice service in Scotland.
The keynote speech was provided by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities Angela Constance MSP. Other MSPs who made speeches included event host Gordon MacDonald MSP, Scottish Conservative Spokesperson for Childcare and Early Years Jeremy Balfour and Labour spokesperson for Economy, Fair Work and Jobs Jackie Baillie MSP.
Take a look at images from the event:
The Cabinet Secretary talked about the important role of bureaux in supporting citizens and made commitment to ongoing consultation with bureaux across Scotland throughout the development of the Scottish Social Security Agency. Discussing the great work the Citizens Advice service in Scotland undertakes, Ms Constance described bureaux as “wee gems” in our communities.
Mr Balfour discussed his experiences of bureaux prior to entering parliament. He talked about his role as a disabled member on Personal Independence Payment Tribunals and thanked bureaux for providing quality holistic end-to-end advice for claimants – from support filling forms to tribunal representation.As a lawyer he said that lawyers’ offices are often intimidating places to seek help but that the opposite was true of bureaux which is always welcoming to clients.
Finally Jackie Baillie talked about her long association and respect for the service, highlighting her role in setting up a bureaux while she worked at East Dunbartonshire Council.
Anne Lavery, Acting Chief Executive at Citizens Advice Scotland, spoke about the incredible work that the Citizens Advice network across Scotland does and the outcomes that have delivered for citizens and consumers in the last year. She said: “In the last year the Citizens Advice service in Scotland helped more than 310,000 clients solve their problems, from city centres to the Highlands and Islands. That’s one in every 14 adults in Scotland.
“These are impressive statistics for any organisation and are a credit to the hard work of bureaux staff and volunteers across the country as well as our staff within CAS, the Consumer Service and Extra Help Unit. But we cannot rest on our laurels. This is a time of great change across Scotland and change always brings opportunities for improvement and to do things better.”
Commenting on the success of the event, Mary Kinninmonth, Director at Dundee Citizens Advice Bureaux, said:
“The parliamentary reception was great to attend. It was clear from the MSPs who spoke, regardless of which party they represented, that they held the Citizens Advice service in the highest esteem. They clearly recognised the value of the service provided by local bureaux and the national reach and input in relation to policy issues. It was good to feel appreciated and have such positive feedback.”
Norma Philpott, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice and Rights Fife, said: “I felt the event was very positive and recognised the valuable and important work CAS and the CAB network as a whole do as well as opening the door to new opportunities, and that we have a voice and can influence and shape things with our frontline evidence and date."