Citizen’s Information offices dealt with 23,000 queries
OVER 23,000 queries were handled by County Wicklow Citizen’s Information Service last year, figures from a new report reveal.
According to ‘Making An Impact – The Public Value of Citizens Information Services’, one in six adults living in Ireland contacted one of the country’s 42 Citizens Information Services (CIS) last year. A total of 607,913 people contacted CIS with a total of 1.01 million queries overall in 2016, an increase of two per cent on the previous year.
The vast majority of callers to the services were supported by CIS staff face to face. Four out of five people dropped into their local CIS in person, while nearly 20 per cent made contact by telephone and just one per cent got in touch by email.
‘ This is in contrast to the move by many other services to use internet and automated responses to answer people’s queries,’ said Development Manager at County Wicklow CIS Martina Cronin.
Over 44 per cent of all of queries were in relation to social welfare. Many of these related to payments for families and children, including family income supplement, one-parent family allowance, child benefit or back to school clothing or footwear for example. Almost 10 per cent of queries were housing related queries and CIS continues to deal with individuals and families in crisis due to a lack of accommodation in the county.
Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, guest speaker at the launch of the report, said that the huge numbers of enquiries highlighted how inaccessible and impenetrable many public services are.
According to Martina Cronin, Wicklow CIS is finding itself dealing with more complex queries.
’ We are consistently dealing with more complex issues and more difficult situations for families and individuals,’ she said.
‘One of the great advantages of the CIS is that we are located where people are living and we have offices based in Bray, Arklow, Wicklow town, Glendalough, Blessington and Baltinglass (which are under the auspices of Carlow CIS).
‘One of the valuable pieces of evidence that this report shows us that people who visit CIS prefer to talk to other people about their difficulties and concerns. Our community connection as a drop-in service is our greatest strength,’ she said.
Other recurring trends saw migrants continued reliance on face to face information services; 20 per cent of callers came from other countries.