More women than men seek help from Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire as charity marks International Women’s Day
More women than men come to the charity needing help with serious problems
61 per cent of clients in the past year identified as female rising to 62 per cent for cost-of-living-related problems
We celebrate the success stories of one of our female clients as well as our Chief Executive Officer Chantal Watts
More women than men come to a leading South Gloucestershire advice charity with serious problems.
Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire is highlighting the gender split among its clients – especially in light of the cost-of-living crisis.
The charity’s statistics show 61 per cent of South Gloucestershire clients in 2022/2023 identified as female.
This is a slight increase from the figure for the previous year, which was 59 per cent.
Some 14 per cent of clients are single-parent families. Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire is aware the vast majority of these are female.
And the cost-of-living crisis is affecting women more than men at a time when the gender pay gap persists.
Among those clients who came to us in the past year for cost-of-living related problems – such as energy, council tax and help with personal independence payments – 62 per cent were female and 38 per cent were male.
The charity cannot say at this stage whether the split is due to differences in actual need or whether women may potentially be more comfortable seeking help than men.
One-to-one advice sessions are generally during normal working hours which may affect the numbers.
However, since January the charity is also running a post-work session in Yate on Mondays.
In 2022, Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire helped 4,778 people with 22,493 issues.
A client’s success story – we celebrate the women we have helped
One female client who sought help demonstrates the huge impact the charity’s work is having for local people.
She came to the charity while unable to work as a result of stress and depression – and had debts of £12,000.
She came forward because her council tax arrears had been sent to an enforcement agency. They would only accept repayments of £100 per month.
This was causing her immense stress and hardship and she did not know what to do.
The charity was able to set her up with a Debt Relief Order (DRO). This is a way of putting debts on hold for a year, after which they can be written off.
The charity was also able to get the enforcement agency to put their case on hold for a month. This meant the client was able to afford the £90 fee for the DRO.
She said: “This is a brilliant service and I can’t express how relieved I am. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted and last night I slept for the first time in months.”
‘I wanted to help other people the way I had been helped’
The charity is marking International Women’s Day (March 8) and wants to celebrate the achievements of the women it supports.
Chantal Watts is Chief Executive Officer of Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire. She first came into contact with the charity in 1999 as a result of needing help herself.
“I was a single mother with three children under seven,” Chantal said. “My landlord was trying to illegally evict me so I sought advice from my local Citizens Advice. There was a housing solicitor who got involved.
“Between them, they stopped the eviction. They got an apology from the landlord saying he would never do anything like that again. I stayed there for a further seven years.”
From volunteer to CEO
Following her experience, she began volunteering with a local Citizens Advice a year later.
She said: “I started as a generalist adviser – then specialised in welfare benefits and from there started doing appeals and tribunals, representing clients at tribunals.
“An opportunity came up at Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire for a supervisor so I took the job in 2008. A year later I was made operations manager. I stayed in that role until I took over as CEO in 2016.
“For personal reasons, I ended up coming to Citizens Advice to fight an illegal eviction. That got me on the road to wanting to help other people the way I had been helped.”
Referencing the cost-of-living impact on women, she said: “I wonder if women are in low paid jobs so are struggling that bit more. Maybe women are less embarrassed to get advice than men.
“We are still living in a male world. It’s well-documented that women do not get equal pay for an equal job which is just disgusting.”
More uplifting accounts from clients can be found on the Our Stories page on the charity’s website.
Anyone in South Gloucestershire seeking free, independent, impartial and confidential advice from Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire can call 0808 278 7947 or visit: www.southgloscab.org.uk
Anyone wishing to donate to Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire to help it continue its vital work should visit: https://bit.ly/3kG7HyB