MORE than a half a million people have sought advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau in Scotland in the past year, the charity has revealed.
It is now looking to train more volunteers as counsellors to cope with the growing demand for its services.
The Citizens Advice Bureau service (CAB) offers free, confidential information and advice to assist people with money, legal, consumer and other issues at 61 branches in Scotland.
The charity blamed the cost of living and continuing economic problems for the increasing demand.
“Many of the people who come into the CAB are in real distress and have nowhere else to turn,” a spokesman said.
“We are all finding that the levels of people we’re seeing at the moment are higher than anything we’ve seen before.”
The increase in workload means that CABs need more advisers. But as its funding is not increasing enough to employ more staff, it must recruit more volunteers which can be trained to help.
Around 80 per cent of CAB’s advisers are volunteers.
“Our current advisers, at all of our offices across Scotland, are fantastic,” the spokesman continued. “But we just can’t continue to see people at this rate with our current numbers.
“Sadly we’re not in a position to take on new paid staff, so we’re issuing an emergency call for an army of volunteers to help us deliver our service to local people.
“We are not just looking for advisers but also for people to help with administration, I.T., publicity, policy – and also for people to join our local CAB Management Boards.
“Volunteering at a CAB is a hugely rewarding experience. You learn new skills and get great experience, but above all you are helping people who are often at rock bottom. People often come through the door in despair and even in tears, but it’s wonderful to see those same people leave the bureau intensely relieved, having talked through their problems and found practical solutions.
“As an adviser you get immense satisfaction from doing that sort of work. You don’t need to have any prior experience or qualifications; we give very thorough training and you also get expenses.
“So our message today to people across Scotland is, if you have a bit of spare time on your hands, please consider coming to join our team. You don’t need any special qualifications or experience - we’re looking for people of all ages and backgrounds. There really has never been a better time.”
Applications can be made at one of the 61 CAB branches or by visiting the charity’s website.