Argyll advice service congratulated on 20th anniversary

Iain Ritchie, chairman of Argyll and Bute Citizens Advice Bureau, and board member Elly Bittleston cut the celebration cake.
Iain Ritchie, chairman of Argyll and Bute Citizens Advice Bureau, and board member Elly Bittleston cut the celebration cake.

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Motions celebrating the work of Argyll and Bute Citizens Advice Bureau (ABCAB) have been submitted to the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament.

The submissions were made to congratulate the bureau on its 20th anniversary which was celebrated by staff and volunteers on Wednesday May 4.

The ABCAB has its office base in Lochgilphead and provides advice over the phone, via email, in-person and using video links.

At a celebratory event last Wednesday, ABCAB manager Jen Broadhurst said: ‘This is a really nice milestone. I’m so proud of all the staff and volunteers who have done such a great job over all this time.

‘It’s important to recognise the commitment that all of the team gives. In the last year alone, our volunteers gave more than 3,000 hours.’

Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara’s motion to the House of Commons said: ‘That the House congratulates Argyll and Bute Citizens Advice Bureau for their services to the community over the past 20 years.

‘Local people have and continue to benefit from the dedicated team of staff and volunteers who provide impartial and confidential free advice.

‘As the local MP, I want to mark the occasion of this milestone anniversary by commending their dedication, particularly throughout recent, more challenging times and I look forward to supporting their excellent work in the years to come.’

In her submission to the Scottish Parliament, Argyll and Bute MSP Jenni Minto congratulated the bureau on its 20 years of service to communities throughout Argyll and Bute.

She said: ‘Through the dedication of staff and volunteers, past and present, as their local MSP, I want to take this opportunity to commend the sterling service provided and offer my support, gratitude and wish them well for the next 20 years.’

Speaking at the celebration, Helen Kessell, ABCAB’s longest-serving volunteer adviser, who has given 12 years to the service, said: ‘Our bureau has changed so much since I started.

‘In those days it was all paper-based – we didn’t have the technology we have these days. The ABCAB has moved really well with that technology.

‘Nowadays people can access our advice without having to leave home; distance is no object anymore and that helps us support everyone, regardless of where they live in Argyll and Bute.

‘There are two things that haven’t changed. The first is the need for our service.

‘Many people are in really dire situations, but the advisers here are really well trained to provide advice and offer a helping hand for when it’s needed – from speaking to energy or debt companies on someone’s behalf, to writing letters – it’s all part of the service.

‘The second thing that hasn’t changed is the spirit of the team. There is a great sense of dedication. We all really want to help people, whatever their problem is.

‘For me, helping someone who is weighed down with worry by giving them support and the right advice is what it’s all about.’