Meet Marie – one of our Debt and Benefit Advisers

I first became a volunteer with Citizens Advice in Welwyn Hatfield in January 2018 whilst working at Oaklands College – having previously worked as a legal secretary, an IT trainer for the NHS and as a Community Care Officer for Sensory Services. I worked for Herts County Council as a Money Mentor on the Building Better Opportunities project and as a Benefit Adviser at Barnet Lone Parents before joining the Letchworth Financial Health Team at Citizens Advice North Herts as a Debt and Benefit Advisor in 2020, where I now work four days a week.

In my current role, I provide debt and benefit advice and I aim to maximise the income of the Letchworth residents by finding out if they can claim any benefits, obtain any grants and get reductions on council tax or utilities bills and liaising with creditors. Things are extremely busy.

During my time at Citizens Advice I have seen a lot of changes take place. Adapting rapidly to the pandemic and undertaking a hybrid way of working by providing telephone assessments and also face to face appointments for the more vulnerable clients.

I have learnt a lot in my short time here, assisting in challenging benefit decisions for Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment and taking these to appeal and being successful on many occasions.  I have also managed to obtain grants for people and had debts written off successfully and set up payment plans. I passed the certificate as Money Adviser in February 2021 and am looking to train as a Debt Relief Order intermediary when time prevails.

The energy crisis at present is going to be a challenge for a lot of people as they see increased bills and this will have a big impact on our service as we refer clients to our excellent energy advice project for support.  I am learning new skills all the time and very much enjoy the challenge of working at North Hertfordshire Citizens Advice and the excellent team and managers that support me in my role.

When I have time to relax I enjoy watching my son and daughter play football, doing puzzles, reading, cycling badminton and walking my hearing dog Zofi.  I also want to learn to play bridge again which I am looking forward to learning again soon.