CAT Past, present, future!

Development Day 2015

On March 10th 2015 volunteers, staff and trustee board members met at Longford Park to celebrate the success of CAT, consider it's present position and begin to think about the future.

The aims of the day were...
  • To celebrate the achievements of CAT over the past 10 years. 
  • To inform staff and volunteers about CAT’s current position. 
  • To generate ideas for the future of CAT which are realistic, affordable and responsive to client needs.
It was great to have so many people attend and contribute to the day and we began to think a bit more about what the future holds for our service.

In hindsight, we probably tried to pack a bit too much into one day but nonetheless it was a good start to developing our new business plan for the next few years. As a result there is a lot of information included here!

This page is a summary of the day, with the PowerPoints, videos and workshop materials we used. Hopefully, those who couldn't make it can take a look and make a contribution.

Janice McNamara facilitated and has made this record of the activities of the day. It's a really nice summary of the whole day and what happened and you can see this below...


The agenda for the day was as below (we had to rejig it a bit to accommodate other commitments of our guest speakers).

  • Welcome
  • Introduction to the day.
  • Celebration of 10 Years of CAT.
  • The Numbers Game! - The funding environment for CAT.
  • Thanks from Trafford!
  • Introduction to Adviceline.
  • National advice service picture—the ‘One Service Strategy.’
  • The ‘One Service Strategy’ in Trafford.
  • Evaluation.
  • Summary and round-up.


We began the day with coffee and we played this video produced by Citizens Advice. The video celebrates 75 years of the Citizens Advice service (there is sound on the video so you may want to use earphones or turn the sound up on your PC)...

75 years of Citizens Advice

Introduction to the day

Dale and Janice introduced the aims of the day and it's structure and covered all of the usual housekeeping issues.

Celebration of 10 Years of CAT

Natasha from the Trafford Advice Partnership interviewed some of our current and past trustees to get their views on their role at CAT and recognised the contribution our staff and volunteers make to the lives of people in Trafford (there is sound on the video so you may want to use earphones or turn the sound up on your PC)...

CAB Board - Thank-you!

Dale then shared some of his memories of working at CAT and some of the things that made him proud about the work we do.

Janice then introduced "the wall" and everyone was invited to share their best memory of CAT and/or something they were particularly proud of. These thoughts were then written down and shared on "the wall" and you can see the results in more detail in Janice's photo record of the day (please see near the top of this page).

The Numbers Game! - The funding environment for CAT

Estelle Neuman of the Trafford Advice Partnership was a guest speaker on the day and asked everyone to consider the current funding environment for CAT. 

This included doing analysis of CAT's strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats and also looking at the political, economic, social and technological environments.

Estelle encouraged everyone to think about about CAT diversifying both it's income and it's activities in order to become more sustainable in time of shrinking public sector funding and increased competition for what is left.

Toward Financial Diversity

Continuing the theme of celebration, Natasha from the Trafford Advice Partnership also asked our staff about their experiences of working here at CAT and produced this video (there is sound on the video so you may want to use earphones or turn the sound up on your PC)...

CAT Staff Team Perspectives

In celebration of CAT's 10 year anniversary and the 75th anniversary of the Citizens Advice service, lunch was followed by Citizens Advice Bureau cake :-)

Thanks from Trafford!

In her final stint as 'roving reporter' Natasha from the Trafford Advice Partnership spoke to a range of people in the borough who celebrated the role that CAT and volunteers play in the life of Trafford (there is sound on the video so you may want to use earphones or turn the sound up on your PC)...

The great and the good - Thank-you!

Introduction to Adviceline

Our second guest speaker on the day was Jo Nash from Citizens Advice. A key part of the One Service Strategy is the development of the national 'Adviceline' service. This way of working means that bureau can pool their resources and this significantly improves the telephone advice we can provide to our clients.

Jo's presentation can be found below...

Introduction to Adviceline

National advice service picture—the ‘One Service Strategy’ & The ‘One Service Strategy’ in Trafford

Dale then reminded everyone of the consultation that was held into the new strategy for Citizens Advice which is called the 'One Service Strategy'. The next part of the day saw a workshop on how we can make the five key objectives of the strategy a reality here in Trafford.

The five key strategic objectives are as follows...
  • Make it easier to get relevant advice. 
  • Be more influential in preventing problems. 
  • Champion equality and reduce discrimination. 
  • Become stronger and more sustainable. 
  • Work better together as one service.

Citizens Advice Trafford and the One Service Strategy

We the split into five workshop groups and circulated making a contribution to each strategic objective. The following was put to each workshop group...

Objective 1: Making it easier to get relevant advice

  • How do we make our service available to all who need our help? 
  • How do we make sure we answer the phone? 
  • How can we give people more immediate advice that moves people forward? 
  • How do we make our brand more appealing
Facilitated by John and Shiela 

Process initial assessment
  • Gateway first contact- next steps
  • Anonymous clients – just give advice
  • Relevant questions to establish need
  • Targeted questioning
  • Improve initial assessment
  • Client focused
  • Reduce write up enquiries
  • Revert to pre gateway system
  • Less bureaucracy
  • Expand GW role to enable advice

  • Raise profile of cab publicity promotion local issues
  • Advertising brand appeal allow sponsors or donors an ‘advert’ on website
  • Promote advice guide more presentations
  • Promote advice guide more app
  • Expanding telephone advice service (24/7??) 
  • Refine telephone service 
  • Case based reasoning computer system
  • Skype gateway case based reasons AI system
  • Indian call centre

Objective 2: Be more influential in preventing problems

  • How do we stay true to what we know in our campaigns and research?
  • How do we reach out and involve more people in our campaigning?
  • How do we do social policy and campaigning work better?
  • How do we work with Citizens Advice on campaigning work?
Facilitated by Rachele and Louise 

Who to include? 
  • Unsure of local issues
  • Notice boards
  • All staff to inform
  • Issues raised by advisers to ASMs on to Louise
  • Notice board in waiting room SP issues
  • Monkey survey
  • UC (HB)
  • Free legal help
What / How?
  • Identify AIC trends for Trafford
  • Case study so clients ca relate to issues
  • Social policy feedback forms
  • Info from CAB national re campaigns not usually received in a timely manner If looking at a campaign be more proactive
  • What’s current? 
Practical changes
  • Role for somebody to look through case notes / gateway and identify local trends
  • Social policy worker/student
  • Partnership working
  • Forming partnerships with similar or organisations
  • Email CLTS issues
  • Mail Chimp
  • Using (targeted email) information to report successes in social policy and campaigning work 
How can we improve?
  • Time to access campaigns
  • Outreach/get messages out to bureaux
  • Identify issues, if campaigning get a ‘real story’ written as news release
  • Social media campaigns!
  • Tasks
  • Social media success

Objective 3: champion equality and reduce discrimination

  • How do we reach out and support more people in accessing our service? 
  • How can we improve our discrimination work? 
  • How do we work better with Citizens Advice on equality and discrimination issues? 
  • How do we better support victims of gender violence?
Facilitated by Ali and Helen

CAB info
  • Make advice guide widely available and offer an ‘AP’ more EDI try for all staff
  • Greater training offered in recognising discrimination
  • Have identified people in bureaux who champion identified engagement with discrimination
  • Insert in free local papers (funded by local business) telling what CAB does , how to aces (in simple language) to be kept in every dwelling
  • Education, education, education
  • Better identification of discrimination
  • Improve recruitment of diverse staff
  • Prevention is better that cure
  • Make CAB NAT inform available to all BX
  • More focus on EBEFS
  • More awareness of different support groups 

  • Advertising the variety of advice source ie advice line online
  • Marketing our services : University, community groups, schools
  • Campaign within targeted groups
  • Better promotion of CAB in Trafford
  • Use community boards in shops libraries
  • Young people into schools and colleges
  • Promoting use as a campaigning organisation at local level
  • Volunteers forming special interest groups 

Working with partner organisations
  • Better coordination between organisations working on E+D
  • Email to inform 

  • Training to recognise equality and discrimination issues
  • Sale is not conducive to discussing sensitive issues (gender violence) 

  • Gender violence – be widely recognised as a source of practical help
  • Outreach non standard venues, talks
  • Increase opening times at BX
  • More privacy at reception stage
  • Accessibility/ options on how to contact
  • Out of hours service

Objective 4: Become stronger and more sustainable

  • How do we make our service more efficient whilst improving quality? 
  • How do diversify our funding streams? 
  • How and which services might we be able to trade? 
  • How do we make sure we deliver what clients need?
Facilitated by Sue and Alex

Vols- getting, keeping, utilising
  • Invest in volunteers and give opportunities which keep people in the BX
  • Watch out for volunteer fatigue!
  • Hone volunteer skills and give more opportunity for development
  • More training for volunteers Re: local …… Admin
  • Do we understand why vols stay/go?
  • Targeted vol recruitment
  • Phone workers
  • Dedicated training officer for vols
  • Maybe an experienced volunteer (not necessarily paid staff)
  • Work shadowing in ‘sister’/relevant organisation
  • More harmonisation across advice sector eg. JC and visit 

Funding – ideas easy- more difficult
  • Give volunteers an email address for facility (gen.adv)
  • Direct giving campaign +CSR within Trafford
  • Advertise to clients and funding sources
  • Look at opportunities and trading some advice/ information services to small businesses and charities (for money)
  • Articles in local press
  • Promoting our success to our funders
  • Explore other grants and funding opportunities including CAB funding
  • Develop bank of case studies/ success stories – evidence, promotion
  • Charity – Citizen Advice
  • Push not Gov funded
  • Funders – exploit the exploiters
  • Funding 
    • Small sub-committee to research sources of funding and make application
    • Training for these people 
  • Funding – explore some of the options mentioned at the development day
  • Look at enhanced scale 

Clients and Advice
  • Client questionnaires
  • Document and agreement on what client want – client agreement
  • Less bureaucracy
  • Expand reach – find out how. Survey clients find out so we can use info to broaden reach
  • Better use of reception / IA role
  • More telephone enquiries
  • Offer multiple contact streams
  • Develop the Telephone Service via National Advice line

Objective 5: Work Better together a one service

  • How do we make our service more consistent across the borough? 
  • How do we offer better support to volunteers consistently? 
  • How do we offer better support to staff consistently? 
  • How do we encourage more of a ‘One Service’ ethos across the borough?
Facilitated by Stephen and Naz 

1. Communication- internal /external + blogs 

2. Good practice – performance management /mentoring 

3. Training for Vols- more support – tailored training –not just a manual 

  • If we are 100% confident in Advice Line as something that we can safely accessed by all, why not make it available to all voluntary /charitable organisations and I like the idea of ‘APP’
  • How do we promote our independence and that we are volunteer led!
  • Advertising – Social media
  • A blog or tweet
  • How do we stop being the last resort when others can help people?
  • More and better relationships with other agencies – better links with other agencies 
  • No such thing as ‘one stop’ 
  • Workers meetings – consistency of agenda in all bureaux 
  • Better feedback and training for volunteers 
  • Recruitment process too long 
  • Give ASMS more training so they all say the same stuff 
  • Communication : internally, needs work, processes vary 
  • E.g. ’references’ on PETRA –have a section that you have to complete before saving 
  • Better training 
  • Regular – staff meetings to discuss consistency of PETRA input 
  • Training Sessions – high lighting “Good Practice” case studies 
  • High light best practice to set standards 
  • Use existing Gateways on file to create “Best Style” 
  • Value time – taken to feedback on ‘cases’ 
  • More buddying mentoring required 
  • Recruitment – staff and volunteers 
  • Designated training officer – to support trainee volunteers 
  • Feedback 
  • More formal and informal opportunities for sharing best practice – sharing workspace with other organisations and bureaux 
  • Variation between CAT + M.CAB – client confusion. Why? Should we be working more closely together
  • Lets all get on the same page
  • Consistency with ASM’s – processes – how bureau operates
  • Decide what ‘best practice’ is
  • Set and apply common standards
  • Consistency monitoring
  • Share and Feedback


Summary and round-up