I have mentioned the Wantage Independent Advice Centre (WIAC) in the past, but not explained what it is.
On 1st January 1973 the Community Information Centre (CIC) opened its doors and since then the citizens of Wantage, Grove and the surrounding villages have been supported, initially by the CIC, then the Independent Advice Centre and from 1st January 2016 Wantage Independent Advice Centre (in the Vale for the Vale).
Whatever its name, the Centre has always looked after the welfare of the residents of the western area of the Vale of White Horse.
The WIAC offers a range of services including:
1. Advice and information on a range of topics including benefits, consumer rights, debt management, employment rights, food banks, housing, legal issues, and pensions. Some questions are as simple as which buses run when? Some are simply help to complete forms on the internet. Others are much more complicated and require the skills and experience of trained volunteers who know how to access the right information and interpret it for the personal circumstances of the person in need.
2. Volunteer drivers provide a transport service for those who don’t have their own transport or can’t use public transport to day-centres, hospitals, the health centre, shops and to visit friends. This is important in our rural area especially as local bus services continue to be reduced.
3. A good neighbour scheme through which volunteers help with those simple tasks that elderly or vulnerable clients find difficult. For example, they can help with paperwork, befriend and “natter”, small one off DIY jobs, change light bulbs or collect prescriptions for someone who is otherwise isolated.
The office is in the centre of Wantage in a very discreet location near the Post Office Sorting Office, and conversations with advisors are held in private.
They also provide an advice outreach session in the Pump House in Faringdon every other Thursday afternoon.
In the last 12 months around 130 volunteers have given advice more than 4,000 times, driven over 4,000 trips and provided nearly 4,000 hours of neighbourly support.
This provides 12,000 reasons to say “Thank You”.