Stoke-on-Trent Citizens Advice Bureau

Impact Report 2010

Advice House

Making the Big Society a Just Society

Founded 70 years ago at the outset of the Second World War, the CAB has always fought for social justice.

Whether it was helping people negotiate the early days of the welfare state, cope with the economic recessions of the 80's & 90's, the credit crunch of 2008/09 or navigate the Big Society, that mission has remained constant.

In Stoke in 2010 fighting for justice means:

  • Helping people uphold their legal rights, in employment, housing and social security;

  • Protecting human rights of people fleeing persecution and threats to their life;

  • Fighting poverty and inequality by ensuring people claim all they are legally entitled to and supporting vulnerable people to access work;

  • Promoting financial inclusion and empowering people to regain control of their finances by providing expert advise on their debt problems and helping them develop their financial capability;

  • Promoting equality and challenging discrimination;

  • Helping build cohesive communities.

In 2009/10 we once again sought to achieve social justice in these ways by offering a range of services appropriate to individual need.

This has ranged from providing self help information and signposting to those people who can solve their own problems once they have been pointed in the right direction, to providing general advice and information to support people in making the best decisions themselves, right the way up to expert legal advice and representation at tribunal and in court.

Giving advice is merely one method by which we seek to achieve social justice. Given the volume of evidence we receive about the way in which injustice affects local people it would be irresponsible of us not to use that evidence to campaign for change.

Working in partnership with our National Association and working locally in a range of ways we have sought to use this evidence to change policies and procedures to achieve social justice.

We have also pursued social justice in our partnership work, in supporting volunteers and people on work or student placements and by undertaking community engagement work with many of the City's hard to reach communities.

In these ways a flexible, versatile 21st Century advice agency creates significant value for its local community, complements the work of partners in the statutory and voluntary sectors and improves the lives of local people.

The following pages show how we have achieved social justice in these fields in the last 12 months.

Where our enquirers live

Where our enquirers live

New issues

New issues

Our advice

In 2009/10 Stoke on Trent Citizens Advice Bureau advised 9,726 local people 30,569 times on 35,381 brand new advice issues. 39% of all new issues were about debt, 27% were about social security benefits and 10% concerned immigration or asylum issues. 2,416 complex debt cases were opened (22% more than in 2008/9) and 420 people received help with benefit tribunals (46% more than in 2008/9). 505 people were given specialist housing advice (14% more than in 2008/9) and 165 were helped at Court. Local people were helped to claim 4.9 million worth of previously unclaimed social security benefits and to manage 23 million worth of debt.

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