Just before the outbreak of war in 1939, the National Council of Social Service introduced a network of national agencies to help citizens deal with any problems they might encounter. This was the network that became the Citizens Advice Bureau. Waverley area was in the vanguard, with the Haslemere bureau, opening on September 4th 1939. Farnham followed in 1943, then Godalming and Cranleigh.
Living through the war brought some particular problems, but over the next 80 years some issues have persisted albeit for different reasons. The homelessness of the 1940s, caused by large-scale wartime destruction, gave way to a new homelessness in the 21st century, caused by a high demand for local authority housing and a lack of affordable alternatives. Debt persists with hire purchase replaced by easy access to loans and credit cards, and problems accessing benefits; and where immigration was an important issue for refugees displaced by the war, it was a big issue in 1972 when thousands of Asian families, expelled from Uganda, needed help to settle in Britain. It is still an issue in 2019 as EU citizens across the country consult CAB about their status and security as the UK prepares for Brexit.
Throughout its 80 years, the essential ethos of Citizens Advice has remained the same; it remains a charity, dependent on the generosity of the local community and delivered for the most part by a network of volunteers of all ages, from students with some spare time and career options to consider, to the retired with a lifetime of personal and professional experience. Volunteers are always welcome, whatever time you can give, so why not contact your local office and become part of this great story, as Citizens Advice moves towards its centenary and beyond?
To celebrate the 80th anniversary – and prepare for the next 80!- we will be holding a sponsored walk of 5 or 10 miles on Sunday 15th September. The walks will start and finish at the Haslemere office in Well Lane. If you would like to join the celebration please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For free, independent, confidential advice on a wide range of topics call 0344 848 7969, visit the office at Bridge Street, Godalming Mon to Fri: 10am-4pm or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk