- Firstly, who are you and what is your role?
My name is Alan Fitzpatrick and I’m the Neighbourhood Engagement Officer at CABB. I joined Citizens Advice after I retired and have been here for the last three years as a volunteer adviser. I’ve now taken on my new role, which involves going out into the local community in Bury, attending events and helping as many people as possible.
- What made you decide to work for CABB?
I took on my new role as I wanted to get out into the community and help people there. Previously I was on our Adviceline helping people over the phone however a lot of the people we help don’t have access to a computer or in some cases, even a phone. Nowadays everything is done online, so going out in the community means I can take a computer out to people and help them solve their issues.
- What sort of things does your role involve day-to-day?
On a typical day I’m out and about visiting places like charities, community centres and churches to offer Citizens Advice services. I’ll meet and talk to the people there and help them with their problems, or if they need more in-depth advice I’ll help them access our specialist services. At venues where there’s a suitable, confidential space and internet access, I’m also arranging regular drop-ins where people can come and visit on specific days to get help with their issues.
- Why do you think community engagement is so important for CABB?
A lot of people don’t know that Citizens Advice exists. Even though we’ve been part of the local area for a long time, a lot of the people that we help struggle with getting in touch or accessing our advice, so it’s vital that we have a presence out in the community. Not only do we get to meet our clients, it’s also a great opportunity to meet councillors and other decision makers who can make a big difference in the local area.
- What are the main things you’re hoping to achieve?
By being out in the community we’re hoping increase the visibility of Citizens Advice and our services within the local area, and by being there we’re also going to help a lot of people, which will make a big difference.I’ve already had some positive feedback from events that I’ve attended saying that that our advice has helped a lot of people and that’s what it’s all about.