The lives of 165 elderly Allerdale residents are better off by more than £180,000 thanks to Citizens Advice workers.
Citizens Advice Allerdale received a £5,000 grant in January last year that enabled it to provide vital one-to-one welfare benefit sessions that helped clients successfully challenge benefit decisions which have already resulted in £182,346 in annualised income gains.
The grant came from the Cumberland Building Society Community Fund, which works with the support of Cumbria Community Foundation to help local groups and organisations across our region make a positive difference.
Lyndsay Carver, fundraising officer at Citizens Advice Allerdale, said: “The money was used to provide specialist welfare benefits support and advice.
“This funding meant that we were able to provide those 165 appointments. It actually increased one of our benefit workers’ hours, so it increased our capacity to deliver those appointments.”
It was specifically used to help them address the barriers that elderly people face in accessing the support and information they need.
This included assisting them in challenging benefits decisions and providing advice services.
The benefit of the Cumberland Building Society Community Fund was felt in the wider community in more than just a financial way, the organisation said.
By helping their elderly clients to increase their weekly or monthly income, it enabled them to tackle other social issues in the area such as isolation, fuel poverty and inequality. It improves quality of life as a result of specialist services such as these.
Tackling isolation was of benefit during the pandemic in particular, as when lockdown restrictions have eased people were able to meet up even if this was in small groups.
Lyndsay added: “If you’ve got someone who has no occupational pension, so they’re potentially getting £150-£160 a week, for them to get another £60 a week makes a huge difference.
“Having that extra £60 might mean that they are able to pay to go to a day care centre or go to a lunch club at one of the local community centres.
“If you’re struggling financially, you might think ‘actually I can’t afford that £5 this week, I won’t go’ but that may be the only social contact they have that week.
“It prevents people from feeling isolated and not being able to do the things that we take for granted.
Becky Towns, of the Cumberland Building Society, said: “We are happy to see that our grant, alongside the invaluable one-to-one support from the Citizens Advice Allerdale team, has been able to have such a positive impact on the lives of 165 elderly people in West Cumbria.
“Particularly the knock on impact specialist services such as these are having on tackling isolation on a local level.”