Essex County Council joins forces with Citizens Advice to help people in the greatest need

Communities / Thu 9th Jul 2020 at 04:35pm

Essex County Council joins forces with Citizens Advice to help people in the greatest need

ESSEX County Council is joining forces with the local Citizens Advice network in Essex to make sure people in the greatest need get the help they need.

People can now access Citizens Advice services throughout Essex through The Essex Wellbeing Service (EWS).

The EWS links all Essex residents, including parents and families, with the practical, emotional and social care support they need as they adapt to ‘the new normal’ of their lives as lockdown eases. It was initially established to help those most vulnerable during the Coronavirus pandemic and has so far seen almost 9,000 vulnerable people across the county receiving support from both specialist providers and over 3,000 volunteers.

Citizens Advice provides free, independent, and confidential advice and support to people with problems around benefits, debt, housing, relationships and much more.

Citizens Advice will now work in partnership with the EWS, acting as a specialist provider, ensuring that people requesting help through the Essex Wellbeing Service can be seamlessly referred and received by specialist staff who will offer further advice.

This could be support in accessing missing benefit payments, or other crisis situations caused by debts with household bills. During Covid-19 a number of measures have been introduced to delay or suspend enforcement action, and it is expected that as these measures are removed, many households will experience financial problems.

This link up has been created with £250,000 funding for Citizens Advice recently announced by Essex County Council.

Cllr Susan Barker, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Customer, Communities, Culture and Corporate, said: “This is an unprecedented time and people are going to need help. Services will have to work in partnership to meet resident’s needs and I’m very pleased EWS is now working directly with Citizens Advice.

“The Essex Wellbeing Service has played a crucial role in ensuring that those most vulnerable in our communities receive support and we can now build on that. Working together with a number of organisations across the county, EWS will now also be an access point for residents to Citizens Advice and a range of other services.”

Martin Lord, Director of Development for Citizens Advice Essex, the consortium body for the network in the county said: “Citizens Advice services have already transformed the way in which they operate in response to Covid-19, with our staff and volunteers working mainly from home and providing advice by phone.

“Last year, we helped over 48,000 people across the greater Essex area but as with many charities, would like to do more to ensure those in the greatest need can access our services. We know that whatever problems people have faced during the lockdown, many will face even more significant challenges in the near future and we want to be there for them, even if they’ve not used us before. This partnership is therefore a very welcome development.”

Notes for Editors: Now through the EWS residents can contact Citizens Advice centres in Colchester, Basildon, Chelmsford, Braintree, Tendring, Epping Forest, Harlow, Uttlesford, Rochford, Brentwood and Maldon.

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