Glasgow Central Citizens Advice Bureau provides vital services to local people, but was itself facing challenges due to austerity. We were delighted to be able to help them create a financial system that worked for them, improving resilience and forward planning.
The good citizens of Glasgow have never needed the city’s Citizens Advice Bureaux as much as they have in recent times of austerity. As the oldest of the UK’s network of CABs, Glasgow Central has alone has seen a marked rise in people seeking support from across a diverse range of services.
For decades, Glasgow Central CAB has provided vital services for people in need. They’ve offered free, impartial and independent information and advice for tens of thousands of clients covering issues as diverse as personal debt, benefits, housing and employment problems. Their advice services also offer information about consumer rights, tax credits, immigration, and help with family and personal problems.
Glasgow Central Chief Executive Vincent Chuddy explains the scale of CAB’s recent work in the city.
“In 2017 alone we saw 3,258 new clients, many of whom had multiple issues and needed a number of visits. Our work is supported by 74 volunteers and 16 paid staff, and we extend our services all over the city through outreach sessions in venues like libraries and hospitals.”
Despite delivering a critical service in times of pressing need, Glasgow Central CAB has itself fallen victim to grant funding cuts, and has had to move location several times. A financial review by Glasgow City Council resulted in Glasgow Central being offered alternative premises within the Mitchell Library providing not only stability but a reduction in operating costs.
Glasgow Central and CEIS were brought together when, as part of its move to the Mitchell, Glasgow Central were required to produce a series of sustainability and financial strategies to support development of its existing services.
Vincent Chudy remembers, “We were looking to modernise some of our accounting systems to ensure that they wouldn’t just record information but could also be used to help us plan and think strategically. Glasgow City Council and GCVS both recommended CEIS and we were delighted with the supportive, collaborative approach.”
CEIS Adviser Roy Crosby, “The team at Glasgow Central CAB were very receptive to the help and advice we were able to provide. Having come through a time of significant change Vincent realised the urgent need to address infrastructure issues in the organization prior to embarking on potential growth through generating additional income streams from new projects and services.”
By working closely with Glasgow Central’s senior managers over several sessions CEIS was able to produce a sustainability strategy and help address structural issues in the organisation. CEIS’s recommendation that a part-time accountant was employed by the organisation made a significant improvement to both the financial reporting and to the management team.
Further infrastructure improvements came through teamwork and the implementation of a new strategy document. The introduction of 3-year cash forecasting and budget reporting to support informed business decisions was supported by on-site training.
CEO Vincent Chudy was delighted that CEIS’s support for Glasgow Central CAB was far from being hands-off, “The process itself was very good and it was firmly rooted in our organisation. We were very much involved which means that the end product has been just what we needed”.
CEIS’s support has meant that the future for the city’s CAB service is now looking a lot brighter and more financially secure in the medium and the long term. CEIS Adviser Roy is confident, “Now that it’s easier for the organisation to make decisions based on sound knowledge of the financial performance of each area of the business Glasgow Central CAB is well-placed to add new products to its portfolio which will help long-term financial sustainability”
Vincent Chudy is delighted with the end result too.
“The impact of this piece of work with CEIS is that we can see our financial position at a glance. I would recommend CEIS to organisations who are plodding along but who have ambitious to do better, even with limited resources. Yes, you can carry on as you are and just be okay, but with expert help you could be so much more effective.”
Visit http://www.glasgowcentralcab.org.uk Twitter: @GlasgowCentCAB