Banburyshire Advice Centre - offering 'invaluable service' on benefits - celebrates five successful years helping people in Oxfordshire

Banburyshire Advice Centre (BAC), the organisation that helps individuals find their way through a maze of benefits and other avenues of officialdom, is celebrating five successful years in Banbury.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 10:26 am
Updated Monday, 31st May 2021, 10:28 am
Andy Willis, founder of the successful Banburyshire Advice Centre which celebrates its fifth anniversary this month

The centre marks its fifth anniversary, having helped hundreds of individuals every year, and looks forward to many more years of offering assistance to the community.

BAC is an independent charity that provides advice on benefits and general topics to help those needing support. Founder Andy Willis and his team of volunteers offer help with filling in benefit forms which can be very complex.

The centre does not give debt advice but can issue Foodbank vouchers to those in need. They will also provide Career advice and will offer tax advice or refer clients to a tax charity for more complex problems. The centre will also make referrals for initial free advice in wills and power of attorney.

One of the organisations using the Banburyshire Advice Centre is Aspire Oxfordshire - a charity based in Oxford that provides advice, guidance and support to a wide range of clients from disadvantaged backgrounds including homelessness, Through the Gate, Young People, Drug and Alcohol addiction to help them get back into volunteering, training and employment. The organisation celebrates its 20 year anniversary in 2021.

Caroline Winn of Aspire Oxfordshire said: "Aspire Oxfordshire has been working closely with Banburyshire Advice Centre ever since it opened its doors five years ago.

"We were getting lots of clients from Turning Point in Banbury who needed benefits advice and support around applying for ESA and PIP. A lot of our clients suffer from mental health issues and find it very difficult to complete forms so being able to speak to a trained advisor who can talk things through with them in a sympathetic manner is enormously helpful.

"Referrals are dealt with very swiftly and efficiently and the feedback we have received from our clients has been very positive. It has been so helpful having a local service we can refer people to and even during covid 19 BAC have been able to provide telephone support for our clients," she said.

Maggi Tustain, Senior Mental Health Support Worker at Connection Support said: “The Banburyshire Advice Centre is an invaluable service to my clients in the Banbury area.

"The team of volunteers help them navigate the challenges of applying for benefit, difficult for many but particularly for Connection Support mental health clients who are vulnerable people with complex needs.

"Andy and his team of volunteers have an equal mix of compassion and knowledge of DWP jargon. They explain benefits, such as PIP, to my clients in plain English and in a non-judgmental way.

"They take the stress and anxiety away from them and draw out evidence that will support their claims. Recently they helped one of my mental health clients avoid a telephone assessment which was a big relief to them. Thank you, Andy and the team at Banburyshire Advice Centre, for such an outstanding service in supporting our mental health clients in Banbury.”

Andy Willis BCAv “Our Charity, Banburyshire Citizen Project is proud of our achievement and are celebrating this milestone and know Banburyshire Advice Centre have made significant positive effect for many people’s lives.

"If supporters would like to celebrate our achievement please feel free to make a donation to our charity and helps us continue to support the local community. It is possible to support us by playing the Cherwell Lottery online or purchase goods via Give as you live website or via the Smile website and select us as a good cause.”

BAC holds a drop-in on Mondays from 9am - 12pm at the Sunshine Centre, Edmunds Road, Banbury; on Tuesday from 10.30am - 2pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre and on Thursday from 10.,30am - 2pm at Phoenix Office, Borough House, Marlborough Road, Banbury. To make an appointment call 01295 257974

To Contact Banburyshire Advice Centre call 01295 279988 or email [email protected]