Making an Impact - The Public Value of Citizens Information Services Report Launched
A report launched today in Dublin City Hall shows that one in 6 adults living in Ireland contacted a Citizens Information Service (CIS), last year. The Report Making an Impact - The Public Value of Citizens Information Services is the first such report to be launched by the CIS. Speaking at the event were Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy and the Chief Executive, CIB, Angela Black.
Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy is well known for her work in the voluntary sector and is the key figure behind Focus Ireland and the Immigrant Council of Ireland. Speaking at the event she acknowledged the excellent work done by the Citizens Information Service in helping people to navigate the sometimes “difficult and inaccessible” nature of public services.
She said: “This impenetrability is causing daily anguish to people who are simply trying to deal with everyday life events – accessing a public service like healthcare or adult education, dealing with bereavement or managing their finances. Indeed, it can be a challenge for most us, let alone for those with language or education difficulties”. She added that the CIS was a “light in the dark” that guides people going through difficult times.
Angela Black, Chief Executive also praised the report and said: “I am proud and privileged to lead a public body whose strong ethos of public service is widely acknowledged. Our mandate is broad and among our highly acclaimed resources is citizensinformation.ie which is the main information resource for all CISs. We are committed to improving our services to citizens into the future and among the areas we are in the process of expanding is our social policy advisory function to government”. She added that the report leaves us in no doubt of the economic and social value that is evidenced by the favourable outcomes achieved by the Citizens Information Service.
Indeed two of the people who have experienced first-hand the importance of the service in their life spoke at the event. Mr Roshan Khan Shinwari from Afghanistan explained how he was an asylum seeker in direct provision and was assisted to gain refugee status and subsequent family reunification. Members of his family were also present at the launch.
Mr Derek Maycock also spoke of his experience of the service. Having been made redundant after 30 years, his local service helped him understand the legal issues involved and worked with him through hearings at the Workplace Relations Commission. He now spreads the word far and near what a wonderful service it is.
In total, the drop-in service dealt with over one million queries in the year, an increase on the previous year. The number of housing related queries rose signficantly in 2016, increasing by over 27%. Citizens Information Services dealt with over 95,000 queries related to housing issues, or an average of 260 housing queries every day of the year.
Over 46% of all queries (462,738 queries) received by services were in relation to social welfare. Over one in six 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.
Tomás Lally, Chairperson of the National Development Managers Network of the CIS, said that there was a discernible trend in 2016 towards more complex queries, with a greater number of queries taking longer to resolve. “One of the great advantages of the CISs is that we are located where people are living, in communities and small towns throughout the country.”
There were over 82,000 health queries with medical cards representing two thirds (67% or 54,928) of them. Other recurring trends saw migrants continued reliance on face-to-face information services; 22% of callers whose country of origin was recorded, came from other EU or non EU countries.
CIS Responding to the Needs of the Country- The Facts
- 607,913 people called to a CIS in 2016 – that’s 1 in 6 adults in the country.
- 1.01 million queries were made in total
- 462,738 queries related to social welfare issues – that’s 46% of all queries.
- 95,633 queries in total were made about housing related issues. (16%)
- 82,290 queries related to health issues (13.5%). Two-thirds of these were about medical cards (54,928).
- 71,463 queries related to employment (11.7%)
- 57% of callers were women and 38% were men.. Nearly half (47%) were between the ages of 26 and 45.
Pictured at the launch were Roshan Khan Shinwari and his family.
Pictured at the launch of Making an Impact: The Public Value of Citizens Information Services are: Tomás Lally, Chairperson of Development Managers Network (rear) with Angela Black, Chief Executive and Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy.
Tomás Lally, Chairperson of Development Managers Network, speaking at the launch.
Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, keynote speaker at the launch of the report.
Giving detailed information about the report were CIS Development Managers, Martina Cronin, Co. Wicklow CIS, Deirdre Casey, Dublin City Centre CIS and Anne McCloskey, Dublin 12 & 6W CIS.
Roshan Khan Shinwari explains how the Citizens Information Service helped him and his family from Afghanistan.
Derek Maycock explains how his local service helped him through a difficult time in his life.
Angela Black, Chief Executive speaks at the launch of Making an Impact: The Public Value of Citizens Information Services.