Citizens Advice Southampton, Through The Years.
In 1955 a new local service was developed, and Southampton and District Citizens Advice Bureau was opened. Miss S B Landon was the first secretary of the organisation. Her first support issues included the Rent Act and associated difficulties and Hire Purchase agreements.
During the 60s Southampton Citizens Advice move into shared accommodation in Kings Park Road and in 1967 we had our first full time employee – Miss Muriel Webb. Miss Webb coined the phrase “FOR Citizens and BY Citizens” perfectly summing up the volunteer nature of the organisation that remains key to all we do here in Southampton.
During the 70s we saw the expansion of the service with services being delivered in Bitterne and Lordshill, 2 areas on the outskirts of the city. We were providing services to 12,000 individuals per year.
In the 80s Southampton City Council redeveloped the building that we shared with the Marriage Guidance Council, which enabled both services to deliver more support to our community. The building was opened by our Chair of Trustees, Councillor Leslie Aldred.
As we moved into the 90s our team was committed to enabling people to manage their problems on a day-to-day basis and advocating to prevent similar problems impacting others. Our role was to Inform, Advise, Support and Influence.
The 00s brought our 50th birthday and our First Royal Visit from HRH The Princess Royal. Many of the issues we faced during the 00s included welfare benefits and debt.
During the 10s our work continued to be in high demand, but we were seeing funding reduced both within the charitable sector and the local authority. This has been reflected in the reduced levels of support we have been able to provide. Key issues continue to include debt and housing.
As the 10s came to an end it was clear that as an organisation, we needed to review our accommodation. Our Chief Officer at the time Liz Donegan recognised that rising costs and lack of space were impacting our ability to meet the needs of our clients and that we needed to identify new premises. Premises that would allow us to deliver the changing services that we were appearing on the horizon.
In January 2021 during the pandemic, we moved into our new accommodation at Brunswick Place. A building that was able to provide an efficient space for us, albeit at a reduced capacity due to the pandemic, but also one that could hold the administrative base for our projects.
The services of Southampton Citizens Advice have changed over the past 3-5 years as we flex to fit the needs of the very diverse community of Southampton within available funding.
Our Services include:
- Core advice on housing, benefits etc, delivered by phone, email, face to face and our Video Hub, (which will be demonstrated on the day)
- Immigration Support
- NHS Key Worker Support
- Home and Well Support Service – supporting people returning from a hospital stay
- Maggie’s / Macmillan – support for people with a cancer diagnosis and their families
- Homes for Ukraine – supporting people fleeing Ukraine to secure housing and advice
- Money Advice Unit – helping with debt management and income maximisation
- Foodbanks and Marketplace Support – outreach services to people on low incomes
- Unpaid Carers Support Southampton – support for adults providing unpaid care to someone with ill health or a disability
- Library Hubs – we have 3 video hubs in city libraries that enable people to access our services.
In the year April 22 to March 23 Southampton Citizens Advice supported 6,127 clients with over 19,000 issues. These issues included: Benefits, Debt, Housing and Food Banks. We helped people gain over £4 million pounds of additional income or debts written off.
44% of those we support are from a minority ethnic background and 51% have a disability or long-term health condition.
As one of the oldest Citizens Advice services in the country we are incredibly proud of our history and our commitment to the National Citizens Advice Movement. We have a challenging time ahead with both our own funding streams and supporting our community through the cost-of-living crisis, the rise in immigration, the increase in non-UK workers needing advice and guidance.
Our services are reliant on a mix of paid staff and volunteers who go through a robust induction to give them the information, knowledge and confidence to support our community. We are in awe of the work they do, the commitment they give and the outcomes they achieve
Volunteers remain the lifeblood of the work we do and the impact we make. If you want to find out more about how you can get involved please press here.
‘How about having to run three Bureaux with an army of volunteer staff?’ Gloria replied, ‘They are a grand lot, No problem’… ‘Except perhaps when they go on holiday at the same time’ - Daily Echo – July 1979 – Mrs Peggy Punnett, Publicity Officer, CAB interviewing Gloria Horrocks, Southampton CAB Organiser