History of Citizens Advice
In the beginning
The idea of a national information advice service in the UK emerged in the years between the two world wars. Complex new regulations and the impact of the First World War on families made the need for information and advice apparent. But nothing was actually started until war was declared on 3rd September 1939.
The need for advice and information was high. Not only were the problems of war brought to ‘Mrs B of the Bureau’ but also the every day problems which still have to be dealt with today. Bureaux stocked a variety of leaflets and explained everything from rationing and Red Cross messages to war damage relief. Some of the most complex problems involved finding lost relatives who had been in a bombed area.
The post-war years
Government funding was channelled away from the Service and alternative funds had to be sought. Charitable trusts provided support but the number of CABx had halved by 1953. Government funding did not start again until seven years later, due to the huge number of queries caused by the Rent Act.
In the past sixty years, Citizens Advice Bureaux have dealt with more than 165 million enquiries. The 15,000 volunteer advisors who give their time and energy to help others now go through a rigorous and demanding training course. Each Bureau is funded by grants from their Local Authority, charitable trusts and donations from local businesses.
CAB in Swale
In the 1970’s Sittingbourne CAB was established with Faversham CAB as an offshoot. Sheppey CAB was also started around this time. Faversham CAB became fully independent in 1989 while Sheppey CAB later merged with Sittingbourne. In recent years it has become increasingly apparent that with the organisational and financial demands of providing a highly professional service in an ever-more complex society with ever-higher expectations, the future lies with a Borough-wide Bureau. Thus Faversham was reunited with Sittingbourne and Sheppey to form the CAB in Swale on 1 June 2004.
In line with the national rebrand, Citizens Advice Bureau in Swale became Citizens Advice Swale in 2015.
Even after all these changes, the principles of Citizens Advice is as true today as they were in 1939: confidential, impartial, independent, and free advice for all.