As the end of the year approaches, I can reflect on great service that Citizens Advice Edinburgh has continued to provide to those in need of independent and impartial advice and support in the city. Over the last year we have dealt with 28,000 enquiries leading to us resolving over 43,000 issues and helping some of the most vulnerable in our community deal with over £4 million of unmanageable debt. With our advice and support, clients in Edinburgh achieved nearly £3 million of financial gain, through access to welfare entitlement, resolving debt, employment and consumer rights issues.
Since becoming CEO I have been incredibly impressed by the vast knowledge and skills we have across the organisation to deal with the thousands of problems that citizens of Edinburgh present with every year. This is even more impressive, when the vast majority of our team are Volunteer Advisers, giving up their time free of charge to help fellow citizens in need. Our volunteers give an average of 300 hours service each year. That’s more than 86,700 hours of time provided free of charge, the equivalent to £624,240 at National Minimum Wage. A truly valuable and much needed resource. Their contribution and service to the community of Edinburgh is substantial and they should be recognised for what they achieve.
However, as we prepare the budget for 2017/18 it is clear that we are facing significant funding challenges and we need your support, if we are going to retain the vital services we have across the city. This is driven by three key factors:
1. The City of Edinburgh Council is yet to confirm the level of funding we will receive and have indicated that there is likely to be a reduction. We know the council needs to make substantial savings across the board and that the amount of funding they receive from the Government has been less than expected.
2. We provide Citizens Advice in 25 outreach sites across the city, funded by a number of often short term sources. This is set to reduce next year and as a result, all of our core services will have to be reduced proportionately
3. At the same time, continued economic uncertainty has reduced the availability of corporate and public donations and trust and grant providers have described being saturated by the volume of charity applications in 2016/17.
Citizens Advice is an independent charity, that receives only 19% of its operating costs as a grant from the Local Authority. The other 81% needs to be raised through fundraised income. Most people have come to expect Citizens Advice to be available if and when they need it and indeed many have come to depend on it, in times of dire need. However, we receive very few donations from the community of Edinburgh and so we are making an appeal, to ask the City of Edinburgh to support its local Citizens Advice Service and the massive contribution our volunteers make each year.
Our donations page - Support Citizens Advice Edinburgh - remains live all year round. This has a facility for anyone to make a monthly donation to Citizens Advice Edinburgh.
If as little as 4% of the adult population over the age of 30 in Edinburgh were to make a regular donation of only £2 per month to Citizens Advice Edinburgh, this would fund all of our Bureau Services every year.
So please, take a few moments to log onto our website and make that pledge. You can be one of the 4% who give a little to help thousands of local people in need every year and show your support to the 280 volunteers who give up their time to make a real difference.
Thank you for your support.
Citizens Advice Edinburgh
Citizens Advice Edinburgh