Stirling Council Libraries and Archives service and Stirling District Citizens Advice Bureau Ltd have teamed up thanks to funding from Stirling Council, and are launching two new services this week, namely the Rural Access Advice Network & the Eastern Villages Advice Network.
These new CAB services aim to assist local people through the transition to Universal Credit with one-to-one support from trained advisers, and volunteers and digital support on how to better use computers will also be available. CAB will be offering advice and support on a variety of issues including benefits, housing, employment rights and many other topics.
Stirling CAB will also be offering tailored support to those needing help with Universal Credit claims and maintenance of accounts, shopping around for better deals on fuel etc and General IT support.
The new services will be available in
• Killin Library, every Tuesday 10.30-12.00 Macgregor’s Market and 1-2pm Killin library
• Cowie library every Monday 10 – 12
• Fallin Library, every Wednesday 10-12 noon & Plean Library 1 – 3pm
• Strathblane/Balfron Library Thursdays 10-12 noon (alternately)
Jim Roche, Chair of Stirling CAB said - “We at Stirling District Citizens Advice Bureau are very pleased to re-establish our outreach advice programme thanks to Stirling Council and Stirling Council Libraries and Archives Service. Almost half of Stirlingshire's citizens live outside the Stirling conurbation and it's great that we can now offer them our free and expert advice in rural areas."
Convenor of Stirling Council’s Community Planning & Regeneration Committee, Councillor Chris Kane, said: “So many of the services we rely on every day are only offered online, meaning we require access to a computer, access to the internet and the skills to use both.
"While our children are being swept along by the digital revolution, the rest of us are trying to ensure we’re not swept aside by it. Digital literacy should never be taken for granted and if you are struggling, please remember you are not alone.
"Through services such as the Rural and Eastern Villages Advice Network, Stirling Council and CAB staff are here to help. Not everybody can afford a computer, meaning Stirling Council’s libraries offer a digital lifeline for many people. We want to ensure that nobody is excluded and everyone can get appropriate advice and support as close to home as possible.”
Lindsay McKrell, Team Leader for Libraries said: “Stirling Council Libraries and Archives Service are happy to work in partnership with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. The CAB offer access to advice and benefits information in rural libraries on a regular basis and where possible, Libraries staff offer digital support.
"This has proved a really effective combination and we are delighted to continue this work.”
Jacqui Gibson & Jo Baker (Stirling CAB Rural Advisers) added: “We aim to alleviate the concerns and worries of local people due to the impact of the welfare reform programme. We will also work to relieve fuel poverty, social deprivation and ensure local people do not suffer through lack of access to up to date information and advice.”
The aim of the Rural Access Advice Network & the Eastern Villages Advice Network is to provide wide ranging CAB advice to disadvantaged and isolated people via outreach surgeries and home visiting, thereby allowing informed, empowered and enabled decision making. The advice available will include help up to and including an appearance at a Social Security tribunal.
Access Advice Network & the Eastern Villages Advice Network will also provide a home visiting advice service for to up to 50 households for those housebound by virtue of rural, economic and social isolation, helping to tackle poverty and inequality throughout rural Stirling District.
Rural Access Advice Network & the Eastern Villages Advice Network services include:
• The provision of weekly generalist CAB advice service drop-ins in the libraries, for the Eastern Village communities & for people in and around Killin, Strathblane & Balfron (no appointment necessary).
• The provision of a weekly home visiting service across these areas.
• Weekly help and support to better understand computers to help the community be more digitally included; and to reduce the number of benefit sanctions
Pictured are (L-R), Ian Brown (Digital Inclusion Worker for Connecting Stirling), Cllr Chris Kane (Convenor of Stirling Council’s Community Planning & Regeneration Committee), Jim Roche (Chair, Stirling District Citizen’s Advice Bureau) and Linda McNair (Fallin Community Library Officer)