Citizens Advice Annual Conference 2015


Last week Citizens Advice hosted their annual conference at the University of Warwick in Coventry. We hear from Adam Lake, Turn2us Head of Communications, and Kirsten McKenzie, Turn2us Head of Helpline Services, to find out why Turn2us attended the event and how they hope to work more closely with Citizens Advice in the future.

Q. What’s the relationship with Citizens Advice and how do the two charities work together?

Kirsten: "Citizens Advice is one of the most popular channels for people to turn to when looking for support and advice on benefits. Many branches refer individuals to Turn2us for benefit checks, charitable grant searches or to gain information on benefits and grants. The feedback that we have been getting today has been really positive and a testament to how the two organisations can work together to support those we help."

Adam: "I’ve found it really interesting as both Turn2us and Citizens Advice have recently updated their branding in order to support more people. So there are lots of experiences that we can share as we tend to work with similar people. It’s clear that too many people don’t know how to find out what support is available in the form of benefits and charitable grants. Today we’ve been hearing from a lot of branches about how they are trying to tackle that problem too."

What are you trying to get out of the conference?

Kirsten: "I want to ensure that people who need our support get the access to the services they require. Last year, our helpline received over 94,000 calls, with a significant number coming from Citizens Advice branches. One of the things that we are keen to look at is how we can work more closely with local offices so that we can maintain these relationships and make them stronger.  We would also like to work together to ensure our customers are directed to the right communication channel for them."

Adam: "It’s always really nice to hear how Turn2us is used across different branches of Citizens Advice. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we feel that Citizens Advice are partners in our work and it’s important in any partnership to find out what makes the other half ticks!"

What other organisations are attending the conference?

Kirsten: "There are quite a broad range of organisations here. What they all have in common is that they want to find ways to support people who are looking for help. Some we have worked with in the past, such as StepChange Debt Charity; others are new organisations that we will look to build relationships with in the future."

Adam: "The main audience here are the delegates who work at the various Citizens Advice branches across the UK and that’s been really useful from a networking point of view because nothing beats talking to someone face to face. It’s been great talking to lots of different types of organisations and professionals as you never know where an opportunity to work together may arise."

What’s been the best moment of the conference so far?

Kirsten: "For me, it has been the people.  It has been fantastic to meet so many delegates from Citizens Advice and understand more about how they use the Turn2us service.  The positive feedback they have shared makes all of the hard work that we do worthwhile!"

Adam: "It kind of goes without saying but the passion that people have to help others comes across so strongly and is certainly the highlight for me. The reason why we are here is because we want to help make a difference to people’s lives. It’s really encouraging to meet with so many other people that have the same objective."

You can learn more about Citizens Advice and how they may be able to help you on the Citizens Advice website.