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Aberdeenshire CABs hold emergency summit as workload hits record levels

5 Mar 2014

The CAB service across Aberdeenshire is seeing more people than ever before, as the recession and welfare cuts continue to hit local people hard 

Cases have increased by 77% as debt and poverty continue, bureau managers have called for an 'army of volunteers' in response.

The county’s four local CAB managers met at the weekend in an emergency summit meeting, and published new figures showing that the number of CAB cases has increased by 77% across the region over the last 3 years. The numbers of debt and benefits cases are particularly high.   

This massive increase in workload means that the four offices – based in Turriff, Westhill, Stonehaven and Peterhead – are all stretched beyond capacity. The four Managers are therefore launching an emergency call today for a new ‘army of volunteers’ to help them cope with this un-precedented demand. 

Jacqui Bruce, manager of Banff & Buchan CAB says: 

“The cost of living and continuing economic problems are affecting local people badly. Many of the people who come into the CAB are in real distress and have nowhere else to turn. We are all finding that the levels of people we’re seeing at the moment are higher than anything we’ve seen before. It’s a real sign that Aberdeenshire has a long way to go to recover from the economic slump.” 

Eveline Crossan, Manager of South West Aberdeenshire CAB says, 

“The good news is that we can help these people – for example by identifying financial support they weren’t aware of, helping them get compensation or giving them advice on how to manage their debts. Last year across the region we put over £3million back in the pockets of our clients through advice like this. So we can help people and we want them to keep coming to us. But there is no doubt that we face a real crisis of resources. Our number of advisers has stayed roughly the same as this number of clients has grown. 

“Our current advisers, at all four offices, are fantastic. But we just can’t continue to see people at this rate with our current numbers. Sadly none of us are in a position to take on new paid staff, so today we’re issuing an emergency call for an army of volunteers to help us deliver our service to local people.” 

Mari Pienaar, Manager of Kincardine & Mearns CAB, says, 

“Volunteering at a CAB is a hugely rewarding experience. You learn new skills and get great experience, but above all you are helping people who are often at rock bottom. People often come through the door in despair and even in tears, but it’s wonderful to see those same people leave the bureau intensely relieved, having talked through their problems and found practical solutions.    

“Last year, between our 4 offices, we won £3,040,582 for local people, through unclaimed benefits, compensation, written-off debts etc. As an adviser you get immense satisfaction from doing that sort of work. You don’t need to have any prior experience or qualifications; we give very thorough training and you also get expenses.” 

Gail Thorburn, Manager of Turriff & District CAB, says, 

“So our joint message today to local people all across Aberdeenshire is, if you have a bit of spare time on your hands, please consider coming to join our team. We’re looking for people of all ages and backgrounds. There really has never been a better time! You can apply to any one of the 4 CABs in Aberdeenshire. Al four addresses are in the phone book, or online at www.cas.org.uk. Contact us today – we’d love to hear from you. 

“Or come to our Volunteers Open Day at 10.00am – 12.00pm, Wednesday 12 March,

The Harvest Centre, Main Street, Banff.”

ENDS

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