Citizens Advice stalwart is recognised

A LONG-SERVING volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau has been formally recognised for her service at the charity’s AGM.

Clare Burton has been providing advice to islanders for 25 years and, for much of that time, she has mentored other volunteers as well.

She first got involved when she answered an advertisement in the Guernsey Press for trainee advisers.

‘I’m very proud to be part of the CAB charity because it’s extremely worthwhile,’ she said.

During the last quarter of a century, Mrs Burton said she had seen a change in the sort of advice being sought, even though the same basic topics have been coming up.

‘Life seems to be a lot more complicated and we’re seeing more complex enquiries,’ she said. ‘Things are more stressful and there’s more pressure on people financially as well as in their personal relationships.’

She said that often, one issue might tip the balance for a client and prompt them to seek advice and then it would soon be identified that they needed help with a wider range of problems.

CAB’s deputy chief executive Ali Marquis described Mrs Burton as ‘a massive asset to the organisation’.

‘She’s very dedicated, very experienced and very knowledgeable,’ she said.

In all, there are 80 volunteers working for the charity, with another four people in paid part-time roles. Fewer than 30 of those are actually providing general and financial advice, with others helping to run the charity’s shop and helping out with administration, including IT.

Those dispensing advice are required to undergo six months of training, including courses usually held in the UK, which have had to be done online since Covid restrictions came into force. They each take on two four-hour shifts per week.

Despite the degree of commitment required, many other volunteers have stayed with the organisation for a long time, with several coming up to the 20-year mark.

About 15,000 hours of advice are given to 4,000 clients every year, with housing issues being the most frequently raised subject – particularly with regard to deposits. Employment issues have also been to the fore in the last two years, with many more than usual being out of work or furloughed.

Mrs Burton urged other islanders to consider getting involved with the charity.

‘I’d encourage anyone interested in being involved in the community to consider volunteering,’ she said. ‘It’s not just providing advice. The role can also involve social policy work.’

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