Welcome to the Summer Edition of Advice Matters

As energy prices continue to soar, inflation rates rise and the cost of living cuts deep into families incomes across NI, (particularly as schools close for the summer) our focus remains on getting help to those who need it.

We are engaging with utility providers to encourage them to do more to address the crisis and we welcomed the Minister Deirdre Hargey to our offices to discuss some of the issues and possible solutions to assist our hard pressed households and communities. Our helpline advisers informed the Minister of issues which they are dealing with: more crises intervention work and ongoing problems with the social security system.

Volunteers within the sector are a valuable asset and one that does not go unrecognised. We held two events to celebrate the contribution of our volunteers. We thank PwC for hosting a celebratory event during Volunteer Week to acknowledge the commitment and passion of volunteers in the advice world. It was a real privilege to share in the experience and be part of a diverse group of people, many of whom were newcomers to NI. Our thanks also Paula Bradshaw MLA who kindly hosted an event in the long gallery at Stormont to recognise and present certificates to those volunteers who completed our Digital Champions course. Both events were a great success and I want to, personally put on record my sincere thanks to all our volunteers.

Times are not getting any easier and advisers continue to work under extreme pressure, doing their utmost and sometimes unable to do anything for people contacting our services. That said, we will keep pushing, along with our members, for support to sustain advice services across NI and for policy and practice changes that actually put money in people’s pockets.

Have a nice summer everyone.

Bob Stronge