Our free, open-to-all service depends on local people and local funding. Louise Curd.
“CAEE has been an independent local charity since 1939. Nothing we do would be possible without local people or local funding.”
Things you may have missed about us – Number 3 (3 minutes)
Louise Curd is Publicity and Fundraising Manager at Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell.
Over 80 years ago the people Epsom & Ewell set up the ‘Citizens Advice Bureau’ (as we were then known). The aim was to help anyone in the community who needed it whatever their reason. That has remained our purpose ever since.
The people who run or support our service all live or work locally.
- Our volunteer advisers all know the area well. That gives them a special understanding of client problems.
- Our staff have experience of local service and charity management well-suited to their training and quality assurance responsibilities.
- Our trustees’ priority is to ensure the charity’s governance and strategy are directed above all else to the needs of the borough and its residents.
- Our service partners are public service providers, other charities and pro-bono professionals active in the borough. Their goodwill in collaboration often makes it easier to help clients find their best way forward.
- Our funders know that a free and trusted advice service is a matter of civic pride. Whatever form their support takes, their aim is always, through us, to benefit residents and strengthen the community.
All our funding is local whatever its form
Many people know Citizens Advice is a national brand. They may think we are a local branch and must get financial support from a central head office. In fact we aren’t a branch but an independent charity and local member of the national Citizens Advice network. As a member we pay a membership fee to belong.
Others, knowing our office is at Epsom Town Hall, suppose we are a local government service. In fact this isn’t correct either, but all our funds, whatever their form, are from local sources.
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council provides core funding in the form of a grant. This is a natural and positive way to support residents and used by most English councils. We are frequently successful in bidding for public contracts to deliver local services. And we actively raise funds: in the community through events and public donations, and from charitable trusts often for specific local projects.
Best of both worlds at heart of the community
I have worked with Citizens Advice on and off for over 30 years and am continually impressed by how we harness both national and local support. Now I realise we really do have the best of both worlds. As a member of the national CA network we have the best information, training and support relevant to our clients’ needs; as an independent charity member of the local service community we can deploy these assets for our clients’ greatest benefit.
At this year’s Citizens Advice annual general meeting, a member asked Dame Clare Moriarty, national CEO, why the network/member structure was important. She replied that “local people helping local people” was the “heart of the service”. We’re very happy to agree. We think a truly local service, with a national brand and the benefits that creates, is probably unique among small charities.
Part of ‘Who Knew?’ a blog series about less well-known aspects of Citizens Advice. Find out more.