About Citizens Advice North East Suffolk
Citizens Advice North East Suffolk is an independent charity that is dedicated to helping its local community.
Aims & Principles
Our twin service aims are:
- To provide the advice people need for the problems they face.
- To improve and influence the policies and practices that affect people’s lives.
Our work is based on four clear Principles. We are:
- Independent. We act in the interest of our clients with no influence from outside bodies
- Impartial. We do not judge or make assumptions. Everyone is treated equally
- Confidential. No information is given to any third party unless permission is given
- Free. No payment is necessary for our services. We rely on funding and donations.
We are a member of the national Citizens Advice service that provides the online extensive information system we use to advise our clients, and sets standards for advice, training, equal opportunities and accessibility.
We are a registered reporting centre for hate crime. Our staff can provide advice to those who have been subjected to a hate crime or hate incident and tell you where you can get more information and support. A hate crime is a criminal offence that is motivated by hostility or prejudice upon a person’s disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and transgender identity. Hate crimes and incidents can take many forms – to find out more see these pages on the Citizens Advice website or on the True Vision website where you can report an incident yourself.
If you have a complaint about our service, please write to the Chief Executive first at our Lowestoft office or follow the Complaints Procedure as set out at national level by following the link here.
Who we are
Citizens Advice North East Suffolk has main offices in Lowestoft, Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth and a number of outreach locations (view offices and outreach locations here). We have fully qualified Advisers at each location who are either staff or volunteers. The core service provides general advice and information across a wide subject area and specialist advice is available in debt, welfare benefits and employment.
The need for our free, confidential service is on the increase and our offices are very busy. We deal with approximately 4,000 individuals with 14,000 problems each year. Many of our clients are helped using our unique electronic information system. If we do not have the expertise we may refer clients to other relevant services or agencies. We may also help by writing letters, completing forms, negotiating with creditors or making phone calls on a client’s behalf and we can represent clients at tribunals.
Our Staff & Volunteers
Janet John – Chief Executive
Janet has almost 30 years experience of developing, managing and delivering advice services. She has been with Citizens Advice for 17 years, initially as the Manager of Lowestoft, she became District Manager of Citizens Advice North East Suffolk when the offices across Waveney merged in 2006. Janet was a lay member of Social Security and as a practitioner she won two test cases in the Court of Appeal on behalf of students.
An innovative thinker, Janet initiated the development of a housing damage deposit scheme with the Norfolk & Norwich Landlords Association which ultimately led to the enshrinement of the Damage Deposit Bonding Scheme in law.
Janet is also a qualified teacher of adults and has taught Law at GCSE, AS Level and Access to Law.
She has served on a number of Charity Trustee Boards over the years including Norwich & District Legal Services Committee, Norwich International Club and Waveney Community Forum.
Shelley Culley – Deputy Manager
Shelley has been at the bureau since 2002 initially volunteering as an Adviser, then progressing to a staff Benefit Caseworker and Superviser role and latterly in a deputy management position. On a daily basis she oversees both employed staff and volunteers, ensuring high standards of advice are delivered across the range of issues.
A keen advocate of social justice, Shelley has a strong personal interest in the policy work undertaken by Citizens Advice contributing both to national and local campaigns to bring about positive change.
Ros Russell – Training Co-ordinator
Ros started her career in Human Resources in the National Health Service in London working in a number of hospitals ending up as District Personnel Officer. She then moved to Suffolk when her husband had to relocate with his job and took a career break when she had their 4 children. She resumed work when her youngest was 5 and started as a volunteer with Citizens Advice. She was then appointed joint Manager for the Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth offices in 2001. After five years in this role, the office merged with Lowestoft and since this time she has undertaken the role of Training Supervisor responsible for the training of all advisers within the charity.
Money Advice Unit
We have 2 specialist Debt Advisers – Rachel and Sue – both of whom are authorised intermediaries for Debt Relief Orders. Between them, our debt specialists have almost 30 years experience in delivering specialist debt advice. The team are ably supported by our fulltime administrator Janet B.
We have two administrators, Janet and Marcia. As well as servicing the debt team, Janet provides overall administration for our Lowestoft office and Marcia looks after the volunteer receptionists and provides all the administration at Beccles.
Our volunteers come from all walks of life and bring with them a diverse range of skills and experience. Aged between 18 and 90, each volunteer makes a unique contribution to our service. Whether they are a Trustee, a Receptionist, a Gateway Assessor, an Adviser or provide administration support, their commitment to supporting the community in Waveney is unrivalled and without them we would not be able to provide the advice that our clients need.
Our Management Board are both Directors of the Company and Trustees of the Charity (Charity Number 1115522). The Board has overall responsibility for the work of the charity including:
- Strategic planning to steer the development of our services.
- Legal responsibility to ensure the charity is abiding by its constitution and relevant legislation.
- Financial responsibility.
- Management responsibility to comply with employment law.
Jan Wickham – Chair
Jan has over 28 years experience in local government working at both a local and a national level, and latterly as a Board Director in a London Borough. Her areas of expertise include strategic and change management, organisational development, policy and performance management. She has also over 10 years experience as a non-executive director for two major voluntary organisations dealing with youth homelessness. Since moving to East Anglia, Jan wanted to extend her experience of working with the voluntary sector and has been a Board Trustee for Citizens Advice North East Suffolk since 2011.
Jan became Chair of Trustees in November 2016
Peter Stott – Treasurer
Peter enjoyed a long and successful career working in the Port industry for over 40 years. He worked in all departments at the Head Office of Associated British Ports and its predecessors, and between 1963 to 1968 he was Commercial and Administration Manager here in Lowestoft. He has been the part time Secretary for Lowestoft Chamber of Commerce (1968- 1988) and full time Director there from 1988 to 1994.
Peter has been a Trustee since 1968, and has undertaken both the Chair and Treasurer roles during this time.
Malcom joined the Citizens Advice Board over 20 years ago as a representative of Waveney TUC where he was Chairman and later Secretary. From 1999, he has represented Pakefield on Waveney District Council . He has been involved with a local swimming club both as a teacher and currently Gala Official, as well as being a Governor of a local primary school for 24 years until recently . Malcolm worked for a joinery company for 29 years until made redundant in 2010 and, after a spell of unemployment, now works for Morrisons.
Louise is a qualified Personal Injury Solicitor and works at a large regional law firm. She is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and specialised in accidents at work and public liability claims.
Louise worked at Citizens Advice North East Suffolk as a volunteer at the beginning of her career and has been involved in voluntary work since that time. She is keen to use her skills and experience in supporting the charity as a Trustee.
Nicky has always lived and worked locally in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft area. She qualified as a solicitor in 2004 and practices in the areas of divorce, finances upon the breakdown of marriage and children matters. She became a partner at Lucas & Wyllys Solicitors in 2010 and is currently the Firm’s Managing Partner heading up the Family Law Department.
Nicky is also the Firm’s Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration and Legal Practice as well as the Firm’s Data Protection and Equality and Diversity Officer.
Margaret brings experience in financial management, facilities management, complaint handling, HR experience and IT skills to her role as Trustee at Citizens Advice in North East Suffolk. She is a retired GP Practice Manager and has previously worked in the private sector at BT and Honda; in the public sector in Social Services and in the charity sector at Guide Dogs for the Blind. She has also had various financial roles at companies in the IT sector of Berkshire’s ‘Silicon Alley’.
As an evening class teacher Margaret taught Double Entry Bookkeeping alongside maintaining the accounts for several sole traders.
Margaret has lived in London , Kent and Berkshire and moved to Suffolk in 2001. She is currently a Trustee and Treasurer of Beccles Library Community Trust and is developing a role at Community Action Norfolk.
Peggy is a retired Marketing and Business Strategy Lecturer who, having travelled and worked in various places, returned to Suffolk 4 years ago.
Apart from more than 20 years working in Higher and Postgraduate Education, Peggy has been actively involved in voluntary work, including for the Prince’s Youth Business Trust and the Silver Line charities. She is a past chairman of the East Anglian branch of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and served on Aboyne Community Council.
Peggy brings general business and marketing knowledge to the Trustee Board as well as many years of developing and delivering competency- based management training programmes.
Steven lived in South East England until he relocated to Beccles in 2004. He worked for 20 years in project management, including training, consultancy and managing / supporting projects on a number of large corporate IT and business change programmes. He also worked for 5 years on projects that required him to travel between Amsterdam, London and Edinburgh before starting a local business.
Steven is active in the local business community and has been a Governor / Trustee for a local High School since 2012. He is also a keen runner and completed his first marathon in 2017. He became Trustee for Citizens Advice North East Suffolk in December 2017.
Local Authority Representatives
Cllr. Keith Robinson (Suffolk County Council)
Cllr. Colin Gould (South Norfolk Council)
This charity is grateful for the support of a number of bodies, without which we would be unable to deliver the services that are so highly valued by the local communities in and around Waveney:
- We have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with Waveney District Council and Suffolk County Council to enable us to deliver our core generalist advice services to residents of Waveney. We have a further SLA with South Norfolk Council to support our work with residents of South Norfolk. These SLAs are currently negotiated on an annual basis as local authorities grapple with the cuts in public spending that they face.
- In addition, the Town Councils of Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth make a grant annually and several parish councils also make donations to support our work.
- We have a contract with The Money Advice Service to provide specialist face-to-face debt advice.
- The BIG C Charity funds us to deliver advice to cancer patients at the James Paget Hospital one day a week.
We are also grateful for the generous financial support of local Councillors, Kirkley Poor’s Land Estate Charity, Lowestoft Rising, Essex and Suffolk Water, Ashtons Legal, Adnams Community Trust, The Suffolk Foundation and the many clients who make donations to support our work.