CAB is celebrating its priceless volunteers on 75th anniversary

Staff and volunteers at Croydon Citizens Advice Bureau are holding a special event on Wednesday September 3 to celebrate the 75th birthday of the Citizens Advice service and to launch the Friends of Croydon CAB.

Croydon's first Citizens Advice Bureau, in 1939, at Eldon House, Lansdowne Road. Photograph from the Imperial War Museum collection

Croydon’s first Citizens Advice Bureau, in 1939, at Lansdowne Road. Photograph from the Imperial War Museum collection

The first 200 Citizens Advice Bureaux were opened in 1939 as a response to the outbreak of the Second World War. Croydon CAB was one of the first.

There are now 338 bureaux, all independent charities, delivering free, confidential, impartial and independent advice from over 3,500 locations, including South Norwood, New Addington and Access Croydon in Bernard Weatherill House.

Croydon CAB is run by a small core of paid staff and about 60 volunteers, and last year they helped a total of 8,973 local people with 16,650 separate problems.

The Mayor of Croydon, Manju Shahul-Hameed, will be attending Croydon CAB’s anniversary event and speakers will include representatives from Citizens Advice head office and Croydon Council. Peter Stokes, Croydon CAB’s chief executive, will talk about the history of Citizens Advice, including a short film from the archives which illustrates just how much the service has changed over the years, and will talk about Croydon CAB’s vision for the future. Staff, volunteers and guests will be invited to share a 75th anniversary cake.

The event will coincide with the launch of the Friends of Croydon CAB, which is aimed at keeping the people of Croydon aware of how the CAB is campaigning to change policies and practices which cause people problems. Anyone who signs up as a Friend will receive regular emailed newsletters and will have the opportunity to get involved in fundraising opportunities and events aimed at increasing the number of people we can help and improving the service people depend on.

“Citizens Advice, and indeed Croydon CAB, has been at the heart of the community for 75 years,” Andy Bebington, the chair of Croydon CAB’s Trustee Board, said. “When the bureau was set up in Eldon House in Croydon in September 1939, we were helping people with things like lost ration books and evacuations, problems which are firmly in the past now. But some of the issues people faced three-quarters of a century ago are just as pertinent today, like housing and debt.

“Some people don’t realise that Croydon CAB is an independent charity and doesn’t receive automatic funding from the government. It’s really important that the Citizens Advice service is able to continue to offer free advice, through a range of channels, so it’s available to everyone who needs it.

Citizens Advice Bureau“We hope people from Croydon will continue to support us as we celebrate 75 years of the Citizens Advice service and we would like to say a huge thank you to our army of volunteers who, over the years, have given up their time to help the people of Croydon. It is only with everyone in Croydon’s support that we can ensure we are here for the next 75 years and beyond.

“No one knows when they might have a problem they can’t sort out. That’s why we plan to be here for you, your children, family and friends. But as an independent charity, we can’t survive without your help, so please think about supporting us in any way you can.”

In 2013-2014, 22,000 volunteers donated nearly 7 million hours to the charity – amounting to a contribution estimated to be worth at least £109 million-worth of volunteering hours. But for those receiving the advice, the help is often priceless.

  • For more information about CAB, including finding your nearest branch, visit the Citizens Advice website, or call 03454 04 05 06

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