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Drumchapel CAB celebrates 50 years of service

One of Scotland’s oldest Citizens Advice offices marks its half-century today (Wednesday 18 September). Drumchapel CAB has been giving free confidential advice to people of north west Glasgow since 1963. 

Staff and volunteers at the bureau will celebrate the milestone at the organisation’s AGM today by presenting long-service awards to two of its long-standing volunteers. John Welsh has been involved with the CAB for 44 years, and Elspeth Waine will get a certificate for her 48 years’ service.

Drumchapel CAB Manager Hugh O’Neill says, 

“It’s quite a milestone, to think we’ve been serving local people here for half a century. I’d like to thank all the staff and volunteers who have worked here over that time, and also thank the community itself for its support.

 “We were set up in 1963 to provide immediate advice to people in the new housing estates of Drumchapel. At that time we were staffed entirely by volunteers and were only open for 2 and a half days a week. Within five years we were open full-time and some evenings too, and also doing home visits. When we first opened we saw about 70 people a month. By the 1970s we were seeing 7,000 clients a year.

 “The sorts of problems we see have really been quite consistent over the period. Lots of housing problems, and people on low incomes. Indeed one of the more depressing things about today is how little some things have changed. In 1963 we saw a lot of people who were living in real poverty, and thanks to the welfare reforms like the Bedroom Tax we are still seeing the same thing today.

 “Looking back over our files did have its lighter moments too though. We record notes on all our cases, and some of them do stand out from the crowd. Our advice is always completely confidential of course so these cases are all presented anonymously, and they are all quite historical too. But they do illustrate the breadth of the service people have come to expect from us. 

  • Client has lost his false teeth. He was travelling to London today and wanted to know where he could get a set of teeth for his journey.
  • Lady wanted to know where to buy a goldfish
  • This client has asked if we could get her a flat in Argyll so she can attend to her grandfather’s estate. She has a scroll showing that he was the ‘King of Argyll’
  • A man told us his dentures had been bothering him for 30 years and he had ‘finally decided to get something done about it’
  • A tenant complained about ’the smell of smoke from my nextdoor neighbour’
  • Gentleman would like to know what is the law for shooting magpies
  • A lady called to say she had ‘found the chimney sweep so there was no need for you to bother’.

“These cases might have been unusual, but we offered what help we could to all of them, and we are proud of the fact that we never turn anyone away. Our advice is free, confidential and impartial, and we exist to help anyone in this community who needs our advice and support. That was the case in 1963 and it’s still the case today. So we will take a few moments to celebrate our birthday today and then we’ll get right back to work.”

Margaret Lynch, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, will attend the event today and will present the Long Service Awards. She says, 

“There are 62 CAB offices across Scotland, and every one of them does terrific work. But it’s always good to recognise the specific work done by individual offices and the staff who work here. Drumchapel is a great CAB, and has done fantastic work for thousands of people in this community over the years. I pay tribute to Hugh and his team for their commitment – and their staying power!  I’m sure many local people would agree with me that their service has been essential to this community, and it’s hard to imagine Drumchapel without its CAB.” 

For more information or if you would like to interview anyone at the CAB or take photos, please contact Hugh O’Neill on 0141 944 4817.

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