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About Citizens Advice and Broxbourne

  Meet our Trustees

Neil Thomas - Chair

                                 

After a career spanning 30 years in the Catering, Hospitality and Retail Vending industries, Neil took early retirement in June 2019.  This allowed him to refocus his activities and start to look at opportunities in the third sector, where he could use his experience to help community projects on a voluntary basis. 

Neil is married and has two children and two step-children.  He has lived in and around Welwyn and East Hertfordshire all his life and moved to his current address in Watton-at-Stone in 2005.  Family values and relationships are very important to him.

Neil considers his main role at Citizens Advice Broxbourne to be one of ensuring our clients always receive the best possible advice and help. The other key focus is to ensure the charity is well run and has a solid financial platform to ensure continually improving service levels for the district’s residents.

Neil’s interests include current affairs, photography and golf.





Marlena Mandat - Treasurer

                               

Having moved to the UK from Poland in 2005, Marlena has worked in retail, healthcare and for the last 6 years in the educational sector. She completed her Marketing Degree and Managerial Finance course from London School of Economics while working full time. In 2018 she became Governor of Primary school Trust. This has proven to be a challenging but rewarding role and Marlena decided to broaden her volunteering activities. Her main strengths and skills are: strategy, data analytics, financial performance and planning, change management and customer experience. Marlena puts these skills to great use in her volunteering activities.

Marlena considers her main role at Citizens Advice Broxbourne to be one of ensuring our strategy ensures clients receive the best possible advice and support. The other key focus is to ensure the charity is well run and continually improves service levels.

Marlena is married and has two sons. She lives in Harlow, Essex. Family values and relationships are very important to her. Marlena and her husband went through the naturalisation process and she is well aware of the challenges that EU citizens face post Brexit, as well as  the difficulties  that many people face in the post Covid world.

Marlena’s interests include current affairs, education and fitness and she loves animals.

  


Annie Clarke 

                     

A life-long resident of Broxbourne, Annie is one of the <1% of Trustees under 25 in England and Wales, hoping to bring a fresh perspective to the strategy and governance of Citizens Advice Broxbourne. Her particular interest in the charity’s strategy is in helping to develop its sustainable fundraising and community presence, to ensure that our clients are able to receive the advice and support they need now and in the future.

Starting her journey in the charity sector at the age of 15, Annie has been involved in voluntary work both internationally; in Ghana and Fiji, and in the UK with the British Red Cross and several local community organisations in a range of roles. These have included working to develop strategy as well as practical support including an event first aider and distributing food to people in need. Annie is looking forward to taking the next step outside of practical volunteering and into a role in governance.

Annie is currently a student at the University of Hertfordshire studying Biomedical Science.  With an analytic eye and great attention to detail, her scientific skills are something she will be

able to use in her role as Trustee. Alongside this, Annie is a private academic science tutor for a range of students in the local community.

Outside of her work, Annie spends her time exploring England and various countries around the world, as she has a love for history, food and culture, as well as regularly socialising with family and friends.


Dave Smith

 Dave Smith is a professional IT / business contractor. He has worked in the public and private sectors for 25 years and is now working within the charity sector. Dave has a wide range of skills and experience in IT and uses his skills and experience as the Information Compliance Officer for Citizens Advice Broxbourne.

Dave lives in the District with his partner and they have 7 children and one grandchild between them. He supports his family, works and gives his free time to Citizens Advice to help the wider community. Dave has a passion for the charity sector and Citizens Advice – he feels that as Government services are reducing, the voluntary sector needs to be there to support the needs of the residents in our community.



About our services

Research suggests that most people know of us, but few know very much about us. Citizens Advice is one of the largest voluntary organisations in the UK. It is the largest provider of free and confidential general advice and a major provider of free money advice. It is made up of a network of local offices which are all independent registered charities affiliated to, and regulated by, national Citizens Advice.

Citizens Advice Broxbourne serves the residents of the Borough of Broxbourne, operating at a number of outreaches.

Our highly trained advisers provide information and advice to help people resolve a wide range of problems. We also use our experience to bring injustices and failures in ‘the system’ to the attention of policy makers at local and national levels to bring about a fairer society. We call this Social Policy Work.

Our advice work is audited by national Citizens Advice and independently assessed by the Legal Services Commission who have awarded us their quality mark for general help. National Citizens Advice also audit our business management systems.

We do our best to ensure we are available at the times set out for drop in services, however this is subject to volunteer availability and may need to be changed at short notice.

Acknowledgements

Our thanks and appreciation to the following organisations who have supported us financially and / or have been working in partnership during the past year

  • Borough of Broxbourne
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • B3Living
  • Big Lottery
  • Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
  • Individuals who have made donations large and small

About social policy

From early on it has been a principle of Citizens Advice service to bring about change by using the experience of our clients to influence policy making, nationally and locally.

We collect information on the kind of problems which are at any specific time causing difficulty or distress and to bring such problems to the notice of those who have the power to prevent or solve them

The high costs of a supposedly free education has a severe impact on many of our clients causing hardship for many families and acting as a source of social exclusion for the children of parents unable to afford the correct uniform or meet the costs of school trips. .

A decent education is essential to a child's success in adult life and their ability to fit in with their peers contributes to their happiness and ability to flourish at school. We must therefore not understate the importance of a child having the “right” school uniform, yet for many families on a low income , this is a constant source of hardship and anxiety. This situation is all too often made worse when a school incorporates items into its uniform which are costly and all too frequently only available from selected specialist retailers. In our area, one secondary school has 5 compulsory items of PE kit alone which are only available to buy from that school and costing in excess of £60 - that’s before you even get started with the main items of uniform.

Hertfordshire County Council do not provide school uniform grants but suggest you contact the school to see if they can help.

The Department for Education produced a briefing paper in March 2020 to introduce a Private Member's Bill to improve the affordability of school uniform, but this is delayed due to COVID-19. We at Citizens Advice Broxbourne will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that children are not excluded from the benefits of fully participating in their “free” education on the grounds of cost or affordability.