Managers Susan Ryan (Citizens Information Service) and Nuala Crowe Taft (National Advocacy Service) jointly reported at the AGM of Co Offaly Citizens Information Limited that in 2012 Co Offaly CIS answered over 19000 questions and helped 12863 callers.
These are people who called into Birr, Edenderry or Tullamore CIS, telephoned, emailed or wrote into the service. The National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities Service represented an additional 225 clients totalling 13088 people helped in 2012.
Yet again, Offaly CIS has had a busy year, with two core services, the Citizens Information Service and the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities. The Citizens Information Service provides information, advice and advocacy to its clients and completed 19131 queries in 2012 compared to 17571 queries in 2011, which represents an increase of 8.9% and an increase of 12.24% of callers to 12863 in 2012 from 11460 in 2011.
The increase in demand and complexity of issues have led to in an greater need for staff training, which, at times, takes from direct service provision. This year alone 17 staff members will have commenced the FETAC level 6 Information Advice and Advocacy Programme (IAAP). This is a major challenge to Co Offaly CIS but overall will enhance the service quality and reputation.
All the phone numbers of the Citizens Information Services nationally was changed in 2012 and this has resulted in technical difficulties nationally. Co Offaly wishes to apologies to any clients having problems getting through to us on the telephone and ask that they persist. We are there and we will get back to you.
Co Offaly CIS is rooted within the community and is extremely proud of these links. The Service had 32 active volunteers last year and the Board of the County Offaly CIS and manager, Susan Ryan extended appreciation to all our volunteers and CIS personnel in Tullamore, Edenderry, and Birr. She noted, “Without the dedication and commitment of all the volunteers, the service would not be in a position to sustain the present workload. We would like to thank volunteers for all the extra work involved in filling in for staff, unfortunately out, due to illness.
“Our Volunteers are very dedicated staff members and Co Offaly CIS is delighted to say that Bernie Hanley received her 20 year award for service given in 2012. We also held 10 year awards and 5 year awards. Congratulations to everyone, we are delighted to be able to honour our volunteers.”
In 2005, the Free legal Advice Service (FLAC) Service was established. The service is available by appointment every second Thursday. Thanks was extended to all eight solicitors involved for their continued their support with this much-needed service. In 2012 149 people received free advice from qualified solicitors. The Solicitors provide their time for free and this is an excellent service to have within Co Offaly.
In 2012, a Chartered Accountants Voluntary Advice (CAVA) clinic was established. CAVA, Chartered Accountants Voluntary Advice, is a limited company set up by the Leinster Society which facilitates the provision of financial advice, voluntarily, by members of the Society to people referred by MABS, the Money Advice and Budgeting Service and the Citizens Information Service. While MABS and the Citizens Information Service help people with regard to their domestic affairs, it is envisaged that CAVA volunteers will provide advice and assistance to individuals in business and financial affairs. One Chartered Accountant mans this service voluntary on a monthly basis and Offaly CIS extend our thanks.
The delivery of the National Advocacy Service for People with Disabilities is the second core business of the service. The National Advocacy Service (NAS) was set up to provide independent, representative advocacy services for people with disabilities and includes the counties Offaly, Laois, Kildare, Wicklow, Carlow, Wexford and Kilkenny in region 3. NAS provides trained advocates to represent people with disabilities and works with people who may be isolated or whose needs are not being met, who have no-one to represent them and need the assistance of an independent advocate.
The NAS Service in the region supported 225 clients and was pro-actively promoted to 23 Service Providers, such as CICs and Disability Service Providers throughout the region. The services targeted have potential clients for NAS, and this promotion resulted in some new referrals into NAS, in addition to building understanding and awareness between NAS, potential clients and staff working in these types of services.
On behalf of the Board and the members of the public who benefit from the excellent service, a sincere thanks was expressed toall the staff of County Offaly CIS, including those on the CE scheme, Tullamore Social Services Ltd., Edenderry Childcare and St Brendan’s Environmental Project and FÁS, the Agency responsible for Community Employment Schemes, particularly the local office, who funded 7 CE positions within the service in 2012.
Co Offaly Citizens Information Service is an independent, autonomous company, limited by guarantee, with a Board of Directors drawn from the Citizen Information Centres at Tullamore, Birr and Edenderry, Department of Social Protection, Offaly County Council, County Offaly Money, Advice & Budgeting Service, APT (HSE) and Mental Health Ireland. Finally, Offaly CIS would like to thank the directors on the Board for their contributions to the service. The directors have been conscientious, responsible and generous in their commitment of time and expertise. County Offaly Citizens Information Service Ltd. has developed considerably over the past few years and continues to expand the range of information and advice services.
Looking to the future, Offaly CIS and NAS a have busy time ahead and it is committed to continuing to provide the best possible service it can to the people of Offaly and the wider counties served by the National Disability Advocacy Service.