We have awarded Wiltshire Citizens Advice a grant of more than £6,000. This will go towards the project costs needed to increase the support they offer to the growing Army community in Wiltshire.
Wiltshire Citizens Advice provides support to around 15,000 people across Wiltshire through a variety of channels. This advice covers a range of topics such as debt, welfare benefits, housing, employment and discrimination. In a typical year Wiltshire Citizens Advice will help clients manage or write off around £800,000 in debt, and raise more than £4 million in benefits and other incomes.
As an area, Wiltshire has, for centuries, had a very close association with the Army and this is set to continue to grow in the coming years. A significant proportion of Wiltshire Citizens Advice staff, volunteers, and trustees have a military background or are from military families.
Suzanne Wigmore, CEO of Wiltshire Citizens Advice, said “We recognise that we need to increase our capacity to provide advice to serving soldiers, their families and veterans as well as working more closely with other organisations providing support both outside charities and from within the Army. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity funding will allow us to work with the Army Welfare Service, Unit Welfare Officers and SSAFA across Wiltshire. We will establish direct referral routes between the partnership advice services and also support them with joint training, and hold joint drop in sessions to provide a more accessible advice. We will be able to use various Army communication channels to promote our joint advice services and make sure that those who need advice find it easy to reach us.
“The project will also strengthen civilian and military integration by working with local organisations to attract military spouses and veterans to train as voluntary advisers for Wiltshire Citizens Advice and work alongside existing volunteers. This would offer skills building and social integration opportunities to the military as well as creating greater awareness and understanding of military needs amongst our own volunteer advisers.”
Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity adds: “It is clear that as the Army community in Wiltshire grows, there is going to be an increased demand for the vital services that Wiltshire Citizens Advice offers. It is important that they are able to continue to help thousands of people each year and we are proud to be able to help them achieve their goal for our soldiers.”