As a service we hold a huge amount of insight and data about the problems our clients and their wider communities face. We can use this information to do several things:
- To help us research issues further
- To influence decision makers to change policies and practices
- To campaign to get decision makers to change policies and practices
We do this by documenting evidence from the clients we see and submitting this to national Citizens Advice. This evidence is used to campaign for and influence change at both national and local level. National success has been seen in new regulations on letting agent fees.
We attend local strategic meetings including the Anti-Poverty and Benefits Awareness Group. We also attend meetings of the Civil Court Users Group and the Family Court Users Group.
Examples of issues evidenced in 2016-17 include the continued difficulty experienced by claimants of Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment, the crisis families find themselves in whilst waiting for benefits and the lack of accommodation for homeless people.
We continue to work with the Isle of Wight Foodbank awarding vouchers to clients who find themselves in severe financial difficulty.
TALK ABOUT ABUSE is a campaign to encourage everyone to look for signs of domestic abuse among their friends and family, and to talk about it.
Last year one in every 15 women and one in every 33 men experienced domestic abuse at the hands of their partner or former partner. September 2015 saw the launch of the Talk About Abuse campaign focusing on informal networks of friends, family, neighbours, or colleagues. Friends and family may be able to support victims where others might not be able to. We want to enable ordinary people to recognise abuse, to talk about it safely and enable victims to make the right decisions for themselves.
While it is a difficult, and delicate subject to talk about, we know that starting a conversation about domestic abuse - rather than waiting for them to broach the subject - makes it easier for victims to disclose. This campaign is about communicating a clear message to encourage and guide ordinary people to look for signs of domestic abuse among friends and family, and to talk about abuse.
In 2017 Citizens Advice Isle of Wight will also become an Independent Third-Party Hate Crime Reporting Centre. You can find out more about reporting Hate Crime here.
SCAMS AWARENESS MONTH took place again in July, creating a self-supporting network of confident, alert, consumers. People ready, willing, and able to spot scams. Scams Awareness Month is an important part of the fight-back. It aims to give consumers the skills and confidence to identify scams, share experiences and take
action by reporting suspicious activity.
Citizens Advice Isle of Wight is a founding member of IWASP (Isle of Wight Against Scams Partnership) and will actively promote the reporting of SCAMs and destigmatising becoming a victim of these crimes.
Excerpts taken from our Annual Report 2016-2017