A VOLUNTEER at a charity advice service threatened with closure after three decades has told how the information point helped turn her life around.
Elizabeth Warner originally turned to Advice Point in Park South for help – and built her confidence up to the point where she now volunteers at the centre helping other people in difficult situations.
She lived on her own and needed support when she claimed incapacity benefit before it was changed to Employment and Support Allowance.
Since February she has been helping with administrative duties as a volunteer two days a week at Advice Point Elizabeth, from Pinehurst, said: “It’s a great place to come and work.
“I have been deemed fit to work and this has given me a path back to finding a reception job or something else.
“It’s given me a lot of confidence I didn’t have back in February.
“I wouldn’t have even been able to answer the phone and book in appointments like I do now. It’s fantastic.”
Advice Point was set up with the aim of alleviating the effects of poverty in Swindon and the surrounding areas by helping with debt, welfare benefits, housing and employment issues.
The service, which provides free, independent and confidential support, has just three months to secure £50,000 to continue to help people facing difficult times.
The most difficult period in its history comes as hundreds of people in Swindon face being hit by the Government’s benefits reforms due to take effect in April 2013.
The information point, which has 14 volunteers and four paid workers, conducted 1,260 face-to-face interviews at its offices in Park South over the past year.
The team, based in Cavendish Square, reclaimed £532,101 in benefits over the last 12 months.
The stories range from people with small debts to those who have fallen to their lowest ebb after failing to make ends meet.
Kareen Boyd, who has volunteered at Advice Point for three years, said: “Advice Point provides a vital service and, with the change in benefits, which includes a different way of paying universal credit, many people will be seeking help to navigate the new system.
“Its closure would be a dreadful loss to Swindon.”