'There is going to be significant demand for all our offices' - warning over Citizens Advice volunteer shortfall as stalwart contribution of Judith Bews is hailed
PUBLISHED: 15:32 18 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:32 18 October 2017
A self-confessed chatterbox was lost for words when colleagues arranged a surprise party to mark a volunteering milestone.
Such was the shock of being presented with flowers, a chunk of engraved glass, and having a room named after her that Judith Bews for a moment did not know what to say.
The 76-year-old has been a welcoming face at Citizens Advice in Stonecutters Way, Great Yarmouth, for 25 years - a contribution that was hailed at the offices with balloons and a buffet on Wednesday.
Steve Scott-Greenard, advice co-ordinator in Yarmouth, lead the tributes and applause describing her as “a stalwart.”
He said: “There’s nothing she does not know. We love having her here.”
Mrs Bews, who lives in Winterton and was a dinner lady at the village school, said she got involved after a speaker came to address the WI.
After attending an interview and undergoing training she found she loved the work, helping people to find their way out of difficult situations.
Some six years ago and after funding was withdrawn from the service she move on to the reception and still thoroughly enjoys it.
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“You came away feeling you had really accomplished something,” she said.
“Nowadays people that come in are a lot more informed because they can go online and research it. The problems used to be something that came out of the blue and people did not know anything about them.”
Of the surprise celebration she said; “I cannot believe it. I am just an ordinary mum and you do not expect anything like this to happen to you.”
Among those singing her praises was David Potten, acting CEO of Citizens Advice Norfolk.
He said Judith and people like her were the backbone of the organisation.
With many younger volunteers finding their way into work they needed older people to give stability and continuity.
However, with Universal Credit likely to be rolled out across the county the service was bracing itself for a flood of enquiries - and needed more volunteers to meet demand.
“If the experience in Yarmouth is anything to learn from there is going to be a significant demand for all our offices throughout Norfolk,” he added.
To find out about volunteering with Citizens Advice visit the website by clicking here.