Friday, 30 October 2009

Debt and benefit advice event a success

A Communities First event to offer advice and support on debts and benefits has been well received by members of the public.

The event, held in Llanelli on October 19, brought together service providers offering employment support services, debt and benefit support and legal aid advice, with the aim of providing people with a network of support to help ease financial pressures.

The event was arranged as part of the Llanelli Communities First Debt and Benefit Volunteering Demonstration Project, which has been funded by the Welsh Assembly Governments Outcomes Fund and Carmarthenshire County Council to deliver debt and benefit support services run by volunteers throughout the Tyisha, Glanymor, Llwynhendy, Felinfoel and Bigyn 4 areas.

The project also supports general volunteering to up-skill and re-train residents of the wards with a view to finding employment.

Volunteers have been recruited over a number of months, and have received training to enable them to support and advise members of the public.

The volunteers were involved in the planning of the debt and benefit event and actively promoted the project on foot throughout the five Communities First wards in the two weeks before the event by delivering flyers and talking to residents about the event and the services the project offers.

On the day, nine of these volunteers helped to set up the event and supported it by meeting and helping members of the public who came in to find the help they were looking for, serving refreshments and undertaking benefits checks.

Bryony Wiffen, Communities First volunteer development worker, said: “Members of the public who came were very pleased with the event and the feedback left was very positive.

“One piece of feedback said that the event has been helpful for many people, with the hope that there would be similar events in the future.

“This is a true reflection of the hard work put in by volunteers on the project already.”

Service Providers were able to meet with each other to establish contacts with a view to building good working relationships in the future.

Cllr Kevin Madge, Carmarthenshire’s anti-poverty champion, said: “The importance of events like this should not be under estimated.

“Demonstrating to people that you have an open door and that you are offering help without prejudice is a major hurdle to overcome.

“The organisers of this event, including the volunteers, deserve to be congratulated for their efforts.”

Anyone from Glanymor, Tyisha, Llwynhendy, Bigyn 4 or Felinfoel who has an interest in volunteering or wants to talk about debt issues or needs more information about benefits can call Bryony or Chris on 01554 777850.

Photograph: Pictured at the Communities First debt and benefit advice event at Lakefield Hall, Llanelli, are debt and benefit volunteers Medi Williams, Julie Robinson, Simmer Sura, Kim Williams, Senait Mekonnen and Tracey Dunne, with Communities First volunteer development worker Bryony Wiffen. By Jeff Connell


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