A CHARITY is appealing for more volunteers to help their fellow residents during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

Citizens Advice in South Oxfordshire and Vale has continued giving advice to those in need throughout the crisis thanks to the tireless dedication of its staff and volunteers.

The team quickly rallied together to ensure that as many people as possible could be helped over the phone or through webchat.

But it is calling for more volunteer advisors whose job is to help people with stressful and complicated situations.

Last year 150 volunteers in southern Oxfordshire advised over 11,000 people and helped three quarters resolve their debt, benefits, employment and housing problems.

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Normally, its offices are in Abingdon, Didcot, Henley and Thame, but due to the pandemic, 90 staff are now advising the public from home on its Advice Line service.

As part of Volunteers’ Week, which started yesterday, Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale wants to thank its 150 volunteers for their contribution not only during this exceptional time but throughout the year.

Between them they contribute over 1,000 hours to helping local people each week.

Volunteer Virginia Parker, a specialist benefits adviser in the Abingdon office, said: “I get enormous pleasure in helping people in difficult circumstances to understand and get what they are entitled to.

“It can be very daunting to ask for help, so we do our best to put people at ease and help them through the process. There is nothing more rewarding than helping people to resolve their problems so they can move ahead with their lives.”

Citizens Advice says new volunteers would join a friendly team, meet new people, develop skills and make a real difference to people’s lives.

They should have good listening and interpersonal skills, a willingness to learn and be confident with computers, but full training will be provided.

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Jon Bright, chief officer at Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale, is also grateful for volunteers’ service.

He said: “Throughout the year our wonderful volunteers contribute their time and energy to make a huge difference to people’s lives and help keep our vital service running.

“Their support throughout the year has been invaluable. I cannot thank them enough for their continued dedication. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Thousands of volunteers have helped those in need during lockdown through many ways such as delivering groceries and collecting and delivering prescriptions to the vulnerable.

Oxford City Council recognises that it could not have supported communities without the support of them.

Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for supporting local communities, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to all those people who have given their time to support people through this crisis.”

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale, go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/local/oxfordshire-south-vale.