Citizens Advice goes gaelic

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A Gaelic helpline will soon be available from the Citizens Advice Direct centre based in Stornoway.

To mark the progress of the centre which was officially opened by Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney MSP in June, Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan today (Thursday) unveiled a Gaelic Language plaque.

The unveiling follows the recent establishment of Citizens Advice Directs Stornoway-based centre, officially opened in June earlier this year by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney MSP. The centre was the second to open in Scotland – the first having been established in Glasgow almost eight years ago – and will provide a platform from which the organisation plans to launch its forthcoming Gaelic Language Advice Service.

Using funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Citizens Advice Direct plans to extend its service to offer advice on issues as diverse as debt, employment, housing and welfare in Gaelic, an addition to the organisation’s already well-established English language service, with the Gaelic helpline soon to be available on 0808 8000180.

The Stornoway Citizens Advice Direct helpline currently handles in excess of 900 consumer calls every day from across Scotland, the amount of calls is expected to rise following the organisation’s forthcoming Gaelic language advice service. Earlier this year the organisation completed their first training programme in conjunction with Skills Development Scotland and Job Centre Plus, also based in Stornoway. They delivered training via the organisation’s social enterprise, Social Enterprise Direct, the training has thus far resulted in four of the programme’s eleven trainees securing paid employment, with the remainder volunteering with Citizens Advice Direct, furthering their skills and boosting their employability.

The organisation plans to launch their Gaelic Language Advice Service later this year and is currently seeking linguistically gifted volunteer helpline advisors to work in their Stornoway centre based in Gleann Seileach.

Volunteers must be fluent in both English and Gaelic, and be willing to dedicate a minimum of six hours per week for six months, or a total of 156 hours. Last year, 15% of Citizens Advice Directs volunteers went on to full time work following their time with the organisation, with each individual volunteer having personally helped hundreds of Scottish citizens. Volunteers are due to be trained later this year, and will all be ensured reimbursement for reasonable travel costs during training and whilst volunteering, as well as comprehensive training in a range of topics to advise on.

Citizens Advice Direct encourages anyone interested in volunteering to call 01851 708425 for information and details on how to book a place on a forthcoming volunteer advisor training course.