Citizens Advice is a network of 316 independent charities throughout the UK that provide free, confidential and independent advice services.
Each year over 12,500 people approach Citizens Advice Solihull Borough (CASB) for help and advice on a wide range of legal, money and personal issues through face-to-face, phone and email services from offices in central Solihull and Chelmsley Wood, and outreach drop-in advice clinics at a number of GP surgeries.
Like many charities, CASB has found that the demand for their services continues to increase year-on-year although the funding to meet those needs has reduced.
To sustain core services, CASB has been exploring ways to generate income by attending monthly business development workshops provided by the Community Enterprise for Success programme.
During 2017, the senior management team attended workshops on topics such as business planning, financial planning, marketing strategy, digital marketing and developing corporate social responsibility (CSR) partnerships.
Kerry Turner, chief executive of CASB, says:
“The business planning session in particular highlighted that we needed to revisit our mission statement and business plan, which is now underway with oversight from our trustees. The CSR session also opened our mind to other fundraising strategies and how to go about working with companies that share our values.
“The workshops gave us time to reflect on what we’re doing and not doing, a platform to look at the organisation in a different way.
“Every session was useful and boosted our confidence to give some of our ideas a go. Listening to other delegates gets your mind going.”
One of the ideas which has come to fruition is the launch of CASB’s new charity shop, operating from a portacabin located on the car park of the Chemsley Office.
“We’re hopeful the shop will benefit local families, provide additional volunteering opportunities for people to learn new skills or support our work, and of course, make a financial contribution to our services.”
The Citizens Advice Charity Shop is open 10.30am – 3pm weekdays, 176 Bosworth Drive, Chelmsley Wood, B37 5DZ, tel: 0121 788 6527. Donations and volunteer enquiries are welcome.
Community Enterprise for Success is supported by Solihull Council and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.
Mission: We want advice to be easy to get and policy to respond to people lives; to help everyone find a way forward.
- Free, confidential, independent and impartial advice from one off guidance and signposting, through to long term, complex and specialist casework for people who live, work, registered with a GP, care for a resident or study in Solihull.
- Information and advice given in the following areas: Welfare benefits, Money Advice, Employment, Consumer, Housing, Discrimination, Education, Health, Legal, Relationships, Tax and Immigration
Established: 2011 (as a merged Solihull wide service)
Legal structure: Registered charity
Business challenge: To explore income generation ideas
The Community Enterprise for Success Programme is part-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund Programme. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund, which is one of the funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf