Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire celebrates its volunteers for their vital support during the cost-of-living crisis

Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire has received a huge number of enquiries from local people struggling to stay on top of household bills as the cost-of-living crisis continues to make life incredibly difficult. The national charity has helped a record 94,000 people with food bank referrals and access to emergency charitable grants in the first four months of this year. That’s a 178% increase on the same period in 2020. 

Thanks to the tireless dedication of its volunteers and staff, the local charity has continued to give essential advice and crisis support to help people find a way forward.

In the last year, Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire has helped 25,244 people with 70,763 problems, including debt advice, housing, benefits and employment issues. This amounted to a value of £9.5 million worth of financial outcomes.

Now, as part of Volunteers’ Week from June 1 to 7, Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire is taking the time to highlight the incredible work its volunteers do. And, thank them for their exceptional contribution to the charity and community at large.

Over 300 volunteers across Citizens Advice Oxfordshire contribute over 2000 hours each week. 

Gillian, Volunteer Adviser at Citizens Advice North Oxfordshire said: “I love volunteering as I enjoy meeting new people and being part of a team. No two days are the same because no two clients are the same. The satisfaction of helping someone in need to move forward is huge. You never stop learning and you are always supported by your colleagues.”

Chris O’Hare, Chief Office at Citizens Advice Oxford said: “We’re forever grateful to our wonderful team of volunteers who willingly give up their time and skills to ensure people in Oxfordshirecan get the support they need. “I’m particularly proud of the dedication they’ve shown during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, when demand for our help is so high. “Their hard work, dedication and commitment is incredible. We simply couldn’t do it without them.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering at:

To find out more email West Oxfordshire:

For more information about the types of roles we offer visit the national Citizens Advice website.

No experience is required, full training and support is provided for volunteer roles.

We give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem.

What scams you should look out for

We’re keeping you in the know so you can be #ScamAware

Scammers reach out in a number of ways, providing substandard services and trying to take your money. This could involve someone contacting you unexpectedly by telephone or email, coming to your door with a too good to be true opportunity or offering false information through online advertising.

We’re helping you stay #ScamAware by sharing 5 scams you should be on the lookout for…

1. Fake text messages and emails, known as ‘friend-in-need scams’

There’s been an increase in the number of people receiving messages claiming to be from their relatives/children, asking them to reply on a new number before requesting money.

If you get one of these messages — be suspicious. Don’t be rushed into making any quick decisions. It’s okay to take your time, and if someone is pressuring you to send money or personal details then it’s most likely a scam.

Try and contact your relative/child directly on a known number, or ask them to share a voice note, to confirm if the message is genuine. Only consider the request if you’ve done these checks and are 100% sure the request is from someone you know and trust.

2. Home Improvement scams

We’ve seen a number of people being scammed when booking home improvements this year.

If you’re being pressured to pay upfront for work, or the company you’re working with is adding on additional costs before completing the work, it might be a scam.

Find out more on how to avoid home improvement scams here.

3. Online shopping scams

Watch out for fake adverts when shopping online. If you spot something you want to buy, make sure you protect yourself by:

  • Read reviews from different websites
  • Find the company’s details on Companies House
  • Look at their terms and conditions
  • Pay by debit or credit card

4. Used car scams

When purchasing a car, avoid scammers by doing the following:

  • Looking for an established firm with a good reputation, and links to a trade association (for example, the Retail Motor Industry Federation or the Scottish Motor Trade Association)
  • Check the car’s history. These checks are simple, don’t take long and don’t cost much
  • Inspect the car and take a test drive
  • Avoid purchasing via auction or through Facebook Marketplace — they offer less protection if something goes wrong.

Find out more about protecting yourself when buying a used car on our website.

5. Financial scams

If you’re contacted for an investment opportunity unexpectedly by email or social media, it could be a scam.

If you’re not sure about a financial opportunity you’re being offered, get advice from a trusted source and don’t be rushed into making any quick decisions. It’s okay to take your time.

Never give money or personal details, like passwords or bank details, or transfer cash to someone you don’t know or have only met online.

Need more help?

Then we’re here for you! Visit our website for all of our advice or contact us to speak to one of our advisers.

You can also head to Friends Against Scams to learn more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams.

Useful links:

Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire joins ‘The Big Help Out’

The ‘Big Help Out’ volunteer recruitment campaign is reaching significant numbers of volunteers and organisations. More than 30,000 organisations with Big Help Out accounts and an incredible 59,000 people have now downloaded the Big Help Out app.

Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire is hoping to find new volunteers that could devote some time to making a difference as a result of the national ‘Big Help Out’ campaign.

Last year the charity saw unprecedented demand, supporting 27,200 people in Oxfordshire. It can only do this work thanks to its 315 team of volunteers.

The charity is looking for volunteers from all backgrounds and of all ages across Oxfordshire. People simply need to have a desire to help, an ability to engage with people and be able to use a computer.

Debbie Watts, Chief Officer at South Oxfordshire and Vale of the White Horse said:
“Our volunteers give and gain a great deal. They love the fact that they are helping their community and meet so many different people. It also gives them experience in the charity sector, a sense of purpose and some move into paid roles. Volunteers receive lots of support from supervisors and fellow volunteers too. Volunteer roles vary from advising, administration, research, marketing, IT and fundraising.”

Andrew, a volunteer at Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire said:
“When I left work, I didn’t want to just retire. Volunteering on the national telephone Adviceline means I get to talk to people, I hear their concerns, and I help them to identify and explore the different options available to them. It’s really rewarding. Each call is different, and it’s great to know that I’m continuing to help people navigate through life’s challenges.”

The charity says no experience is necessary as full training will be provided.

  • To find out more, email your local Citizens Advice office:
  • Oxford:
  • North Oxfordshire:
  • South Oxfordshire & Vale of the White Horse:
  • West Oxfordshire:

Are you on a prepayment metre? Please share your experience

Your energy regulator, Ofgem is asking customers about their experiences of moving to a prepayment meter (PPM) for your gas and/or electricity supply.  A PPM is where you pay for your gas or electricity before you use it by buying credit, usually with a key or smart card and adding this to your meter.

If you have moved to a PPM and are happy to share your experience, Ofgem would love to hear from you. Citizens Advice Stevenage is hosting this webform, working directly with Ofgem to gather evidence as part of their review.

Whilst hosted on a ‘local’ site, this is a national initiative, and is the correct form to use if you want to submit your evidence to Ofgem, regardless of where you live. Ofgem want to make sure that your suppliers are following the rules, and will take action on them where this is not happening. If you are happy to, please fill in the information below about yourself or the person for which you are submitting information on behalf of. The form should take around 10 minutes to complete. 

The webforms linked here are available until 4 May 2023.

Damp & mould in rented housing: who is responsible and what can you do about it?

We explain the causes, who’s responsible and what to do

You finally find somewhere to rent, you get the keys, you move every last box in and start making it a home. But wait, what are those dark spots growing in the corner of the room? Mould? Damp? Surely not…

Damp and mould can be tricky to deal with when you’re renting. They can be caused by a few things. Any damp or mould caused by structural, design or disrepair problems will be up to the landlord to sort out. But there might be some things you are doing that could be making the problem worse.

Find out what you can do to reduce damp and actions you can take to improve the situation.

Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire calls for more volunteers to help in cost-of-living crisis

Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire needs volunteers now more than ever to help make a difference to local people during the cost-of-living crisis.

Our charity is launching an appeal for new recruits from all backgrounds who can give their time to help people struggling with energy prices, rising household bills, debt and housing issues.

Last year our charity saw unprecedented demand, supporting over 27,200 people in across Oxfordshire. We can only do this work thanks to our 315 team of volunteers.

No experience is necessary, as full training will be provided.

Andrew, a volunteer at Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire said:

“When I left work, I didn’t want to just retire; so I looked at voluntary work that aligned with my personal values. Volunteering on the national telephone Adviceline means I get to talk to people, I hear their concerns, and I help them to identify and explore the different options available to them. It’s really rewarding, each call is different, and it’s great to know that I’m continuing to help people navigate through life’s challenges.”

As well as volunteers to offer advice to people in person, online or over the phone there are opportunities for people to provide expertise such as financial or marketing skills to the charity / provide administrative or IT support to the charity .

Citizens Advice Oxfordshire’s volunteers come from all walks of life and choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. They include students; people getting back into work after career breaks; people with part-time jobs; carers; and people who’ve retired. 

Volunteers are often looking to gain valuable experience or to use their existing skills in new ways. Many want to have an impact in their community and find a sense of purpose in helping others.

For students in the area, volunteering can help build confidence and support career development with different learning opportunities.

Teresa Archer, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire said:

“Now more than ever, you can really make a difference by volunteering with Citizens Advice across Oxfordshire. We’re seeing more and more people needing support with managing energy costs, budgeting and debts as costs spiral.

“As well as helping the local community, we know people who volunteer their time get a lot back. Whether it’s working as a team, learning new skills or campaigning on issues close to your heart, there are many fulfilling opportunities available.

“We’ll give you all the training you need and would love to hear from you.”

To find out more and apply, visit: and find your local office.

3 things you need to know about energy this #EnergySavingWeek

Rising energy bills are at the front of everyone’s minds. But how can you be more energy efficient and save money? And what support might you be entitled to for rising energy bills?

Here’s 3 things you need to know this #EnergySavingWeek…

1. How to save energy around your home

There are lots of quick and easy ways to save energy and money around your home.

  • Turning your appliances off standby could save you £65 a year
  • Draught proofing and blocking cracks around your home could save you up to £125 a year
  • Turning off lights when you leave a room could save you £25 a year
  • Washing your clothes at 30 degrees and doing one less machine run a week could save you around £34 a year
  • Ditching the tumble dryer and drying your clothes on racks in a well-ventilated room or outside in warmer weather could save you £70 a year
  • Reducing your shower time to 4 minutes can save you £95 a year
  • Swapping one bath a week with a 4 minute shower can save you £20 a year
  • Avoiding overfilling the kettle could save you £13 a year
  • Running your dishwasher one time less per week could save you £17 a year

*England, Scotland and Wales savings are for a typical three-bedroom, gas-heated home in Great Britain, using a gas price of 10.3p/kWh and electricity price of 34.0p/kWh (based on Energy Price Guarantee October 2022). Water savings are based on average occupancy.

For more tips, including tips tailored to your home, visit Energy Saving Trust.

We also have lots of advice on ways you can heat your home more efficiently.

2. Getting support if you use a prepayment meter to pay for your energy

Energy Bills Support Scheme

If you use a prepayment meter to pay for your energy you’re still entitled to the Energy Bills Support Scheme, a £400 discount on your energy bills.

If you have a smart prepayment meter, you’ll get the discount automatically.

If you have a traditional prepayment meter (where you top up at a shop or Post Office) you’ll get the £400 in vouchers. These vouchers will be paid in 6 instalments over 6 months from October 2022 until March 2023. You’ll get the vouchers by text, post or email by the 11th working day of each month (around the 17th). If you don’t receive the vouchers you should contact your supplier as soon as possible.

The vouchers must be redeemed within 3 months or they’ll expire and you won’t be able to get the money added to your meter.

Can’t afford to top up your meter

If you can’t afford to top up your meter, there is support available.

You energy supplier might give you temporary credit — they might add this automatically or you might have to ask for it. If you run out of temporary credit, speak to your supplier as they might be able to give you more credit if they consider you to be vulnerable, for example if you have a long term health condition. You will have to pay back any temporary credit.

You might also be able to get a fuel voucher which is a code given to you in a letter, text or email that you can then redeem at a top up point.

Visit our website for more.

3. Support available to help with your energy bills

If you owe money to your energy supplier, you should speak to them about setting up a payment plan. They have to take into account what you can afford to pay.

There are also grants and benefits available if you’re struggling to pay:

  • Energy Bills Support Scheme — a £400 discount given to every household
  • Warm Home Discount — a £150 discount if you get certain benefits
  • Fuel vouchers — if you can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter
  • Cold weather payments — payments if you get certain benefits and the weather is extremely cold
  • Grants from your energy supplier — to help you pay off debts you may owe

Visit our website for more information on the support available.

Citizens Advice is here to help you. Whether you’re struggling with your energy bills or you need help on something else — we can help you find a way forward. Visit

We work with Energy Saving Trust, an independent organisation working to address the climate emergency. They have loads of tips to help you save money and energy. Check out Energy Saving Trust’s quick tips to save energy and warm home hacks to help you save money and stay warm this winter.

Living in damp rented accommodation? Here’s our advice

As the weather has turned colder, I’ve noticed mould and damp in our flat. It’s mainly in our bedroom, including some black mould on the carpet. I’ve been chasing our letting agency, who say they’ll speak to our landlord. I’m really worried about how this might affect our health. Our tenancy agreement isn’t up for eight months, what can I do?

It’s good that you’ve already raised the issue with your letting agency. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to work out the cause of mould or damp This can make it difficult to work out if your landlord is responsible, unless there’s an obvious cause, like a leaking roof.

There are many causes of damp that properties can get. The most common are rising, penetrating, construction and condensation damp. On our website there is information that may help you work out what type of damp you have, who is responsible and what you can do. Check your tenancy agreement too for mentions of repairs and damp, and reach out to Citizens Advice on anything you’re unsure about.

A landlord will have to act in relation to damp if it makes the property unsafe for someone to live in. This could be for example, if it is making the tenant or a member of their family ill. The landlord will also be responsible if the damp is related to repairs they should have carried out, like if heaters are broken. If the damp has damaged items that the landlord is responsible for, such as carpets and window frames, they’ll likely have to cover the cost of repairs.

One of the most common causes of damp is condensation. To prevent this, it’s important to keep homes well-heated and well-ventilated, but for a lot of people this will be trickier to do given the colder weather and higher heating costs. You may be eligible for help to insulate and heat your home, and should visit our website to find out more.

On our website we also have advice on things that can make damp worse and may impact the landlord taking responsibility for repairs. These include drying clothes on heaters or blocking air vents. If your landlord is responsible for the damp in your property but doesn’t act, there are steps you can take, such as reporting them to the local authority.

If you’re in social housing you might also be able to use the landlord’s formal complaints procedure. There is more information about this on our website. If it reaches the point where you want to get out of a fixed term tenancy agreement early, do speak to an adviser first, as there might be better ways to approach the issue.

You may also find helpful information on

Remember, if you need personalised support, please do contact us.

I’ve seen offers for ‘Buy Now Pay Later’. It seems like a good way to spread my costs but how can I make sure I don’t get into debt?

This time of year is always so expensive, with presents to buy and heating bills going up. I’ve seen offers for ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ when I’m doing online shopping. It seems like a good way to spread the cost of some of the things I need to get for my family but how can I make sure I don’t get into debt?

With everything getting more expensive, this is a really difficult time for a lot of people, so it’s  sensible to be thinking about how you can manage. There are lots of things you can do to try and stay in control of your money.

Before you start spending, work out exactly what money you have coming in and going out each month. Be realistic about what you need for essentials like food and travel. Take a look at the budgeting tool on the Citizens Advice website. This can help you set a budget you can stick to.

You’ll also be able to find tips on how to reduce your regular living costs, which might be helpful if you’re struggling to keep within your budget.

While it can be tempting to split payments with schemes like Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), you’ll need a plan to pay the money back. If you’re using something like that repeatedly, you might be managing for now, but it could also be a sign that it’s unaffordable in the long run. Keep a record of how much you owe in total.

Always make sure you understand what you’re signing up for, how you’ll make the repayments and what will happen if you can’t pay on time. It’s important to check the returns process for both the retailer and credit provider. Paying through BNPL may also affect the cost of postage returns if you’ve ordered online. The riskiest thing about it is that you’re not guaranteed to be protected if something goes wrong. For example, you can’t go to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you have a complaint.

If you find yourself turning to credit cards, your overdraft, or store cards for your spending, keep track of what you owe. You should prioritise paying your rent or mortgage, plus energy bills and Council Tax first, because not paying these has the most serious consequences. On the Citizens Advice website, you can find information on what bills to prioritise and how to manage debts. There’s also information on the support available for paying these and other bills.

If, like many during this crisis, you find you can’t afford to reduce your debts after paying your priority bills and essentials, seek advice as soon as possible. If you need specific support or don’t feel able to manage your situation alone, call our debt helpline: 0800 240 4420.  Or contact Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire for advice and support.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, particularly when it comes to managing personal finances. Our advisers are here to help you find a way forward.

Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire Community Profile

This summer we were pleased to host an intern through The University of Oxford Careers Service.  Our Intern reviewed our Community Profile using limited data from the 2021 census has been released.  Thank you to The University of Oxford for recognising CAWO as a 2022 Gold Standard Internship Host. 

The report concludes:

West Oxfordshire is older, less deprived, and more highly qualified than the UK as a
whole. However, it is not exempt from the challenges which being felt by the country
currently. The aftermath of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis have led to
rising levels of poverty – particularly fuel and food poverty, with some estimates
placing 75% of the population in fuel poverty over the next year – and increasing
pressure on district funding. High house prices and levels of inequality within West
Oxfordshire mean the district is especially at risk of these negative trends.
Citizen’s Advice West Oxfordshire is then presented with a mixed picture; while West
Oxfordshire is relatively fortunate in its population profile, growing challenges can be
expected to put more pressure on the service. Increased demand for the service and
increasing levels of claims for benefits will mean that the service will need to respond
to new pressures. Fuel poverty and help with rising costs of living will be key areas in
which the service can expect increased demand.

See the full Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire Community Profile