Sedgemoor CAB’s #CAB7Days

Sedgemoor CAB’s #CAB7Days Twitter “experiment” – in which they tweeted every enquiry they processed in 7 days – has now come to an end, and what a fascinating and illuminating experiment it has been.

Everyone roughly knows what Citizens Advice Bureaux do, but this has done a great job of demonstrating the scale and scope of the difference they make across so many facets of life. Indeed, Sedgemoor’s own stats of the week show the range of advice they provide:

  • 26 employment cases tweeted last week, covering redundancy, dismissal, grievance, incorrect pay, disciplinary
  • 7 health related issue tweeted, covering mental health issues, support needed, depression through job loss,debt and ralationship collapse
  • 8 relationship breakdown cases tweeted (including many more not tweetable). Cases included divorce, mediation, children, housing, debts, benefits, solicitors
  • 15 housing issues tweeted, including homeless, rent arrears, lack of affordable housing, slow market, possession hearings, housing lists
  • 34 debt issues tweeted, most of which were new cases from very distressed clients. Topics covered included threatening letters, bailiffs, bankruptcy, Debt relief orders
  • 47 benefit enquiry tweets last week, covering mainly ESA, DLA, JSA mainly on topics such as appeals, applications, payments, entitlements.

It’s no surprise that benefits queries and debt issues were the top issues – this is the reality of the day-to-day life of many, many people.

It’s quite right, I think, that Sedgemoor CAB is using the brilliant profile its established as a platform to promote their People’s Millions bid.

This raises the intriguing question of what their local Council has made of the tweets and the coverage Sedgemoor has gained. Though I don’t think this type of thing makes any organisation immune from the financial challenges local authorities and the voluntary and community sector faces, I’ll wager that this significantly influences the Council’s decision on Sedgemoor’s ongoing funding (for the better).

Thus, if I were the CAB’s contact at the Council, I’d (a) congratulate them, (b) get them to write lessons learnt for other organisations to benefit from, and (c) get others to promote their work and impact in a similar fashion. By doing so, maintaining or increasing Sedgemoor’s core grant or contract value for 2011/12 can be justified.

For the voluntary and community sector more generally, I think this is one clear demonstration of how transparency can help the sector influence decision makers and show impact.

It’s been a great experiment, and well done to everyone involved.

(Let’s hope we’re not inundated with tens of organisations doing the same!)

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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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