Dudley North MP Ian Austin will visit the Citizens Advice Dudley Borough in Stone Street, Dudley this Friday to meet Laura Thomas, the Chief Executive, as part of their pre-opening event and see the new service they are offering people across the Borough.
Laura and her team of staff and volunteers helped 17,000 people in Dudley last year. Their work directly prevented 600 people losing their homes and they brought a huge amount of money into Dudley last year, helping local people claim £15 million in benefits they were entitled to. They deal with lots of advice issues including debt, housing, employment and welfare problems when local people have nowhere else to turn.
Currently the team is spread out over four offices, some of which are completely unsuitable for disabled people and do not have the resources to provide the amount of support people require. People have to queue for hours for an appointment and some are turned away because there just isn’t the capacity to see everyone.
The new Super Service on Stone Street, when at full capacity will have 20 contact centre assessors on the phones, so most straight forward enquiries can be dealt with over the phone instead of needing a longer face-to-face meeting.
There will also be ten interview rooms where fully trained advisors and caseworkers will offer face to face advice, an information hub where people can be supported to use computers to have their advice questions answered online, and a crisis line for people who can’t pay for a call. The new service has full disabled access via a wheelchair accessible stair lift and lift to the second floor.
For people with very complex support needs, a generalist casework team will be working across a variety of existing and new venues Borough wide to help those that need this specialist service.
In addition, although the staff have not be recruited yet, Citizens Advice have set up a webchat and email room where 10 advisors will be on line for people who would like to access the service in this way. This new part of the service will be developed over the coming months.
Laura Thomas said:
“We have spent the last 18 months restructuring and remodelling our organisation and listening to the feedback of people who use our services to ensure we are fit for purpose now and in the future.
“For a long time, we have not been able to meet the demand across the Borough and have not been able to provide the best support to everyone who needs us. We look forward to being able to be person centred in how we deliver advice and guidance across the Borough.”
Ian Austin said:
“Laura and her team do fantastic work across the Borough and I am delighted to go and see the new office which will enable them to help even more people.
“I think these changes will improve the service local people need. They will be able to help more people and you’ll be able to get help over the phone or online which should be much easier and more convenient for most people. Those that can’t will still be able to see someone for a longer, more detailed help.”