Queries on Pensions, Retirement and Student Grants all popular at Ploughing Championships 2017

September 2017

The Citizens Information Service (CIS) and Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) returned to the National Ploughing Championships last week in Screggan, Co Offaly and once again offered information and advice to some of the 291,000 visitors who attended. They were joined this year for the first time by Abhaile- the Free Mortgage Arrears Support service.

This year staff from the Citizens Information Services in Offaly, Carlow and Westmeath were joined by colleagues from Offaly MABS as well as colleagues from the Citizens Information Board. The Chief Executive, Angela Black also took a turn giving information and advice.

There was a wide range of queries from visitors to the marquee – focusing in particular on topical areas such as flood assistance, Farm Assist, Maternity Benefit and income supports for older people. Likewise the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) helped those with concerns over debt issues. Visitors to the marquee were also encouraged to pick up promotional material on the new Abhaile - Free Mortgage Arrears Support service www.mabs.ie/en/abhaile/ to pass on to friends and family who were struggling with mortgage arrears.

Michelle O’Hara, Development Manager, Carlow Citizens Information Service (CIS) said:

“The first day proved to be the busiest not just for us but for the event in general with 112,500 in attendance. I’m sure the fine weather was a factor. There was a wide variety of queries and areas such as pensions, retirement and the need to apply for job seekers benefit coming top of the list. The Entitlements for Over 60’s booklet also proved as popular as ever. At the other end of the scale the Information for School Leavers booklet was also popular. Topics such as how school leavers should go about getting their PPS number, to their rights as tenants when renting to claiming social welfare benefits were among the questions asked. Queries about the SUSI grant application for third level students and those in full-time PLC courses also kept information officers busy. Other people just popped in to pick up a leaflet and find out where there local Citizens Information Centre (CIC) was located. All CIC locations can be found on the citizensinformation.ie website”.

The other two stands in the Citizens First marquee were attended by staff from the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) and the Personal Microcredit Scheme (PMC). The PMC was a pilot scheme set up to help reduce dependence on moneylenders.Loans under the initiative are called It Makes Sense loans.

Kathleen O'Boyle from Carlow CIS gives information with Chief Executive, Angela Black in background.

Kathleen O'Boyle from Carlow CIS gives information with Chief Executive, Angela Black in background.

Susan Ryan, Manager, Offaly CIS and Michelle O’Hara, Manager, Carlow CIS.

Susan Ryan, Manager, Offaly CIS and Michelle O’Hara, Manager, Carlow CIS.

Angela Black, Chief Executive has a word with Brendan Howlin TD.

Angela Black, Chief Executive has a word with Brendan Howlin TD.

Pictured at the MABS and Abhaile stand were from left: Claire Kellegher, Abhaile, Bobby Barbour, Manager, Abhaile, Bernie Keenaghan, Offaly MABS, Mary Errity, Offaly MABS and Angela Black, Chief Executive.

Pictured at the MABS and Abhaile stand were from left: Claire Kellegher, Abhaile, Bobby Barbour, Manager, Abhaile, Bernie Keenaghan, Offaly MABS, Mary Errity, Offaly MABS and Angela Black, Chief Executive.

Pictured from left outside the Citizens First marquee are from left: Mike Cummins, CIS, Claire Kellegher, Abhaile, Susan Ryan, CIS, Angela Black, Chief Executive, Nicola Walshe CIB, Bernie Keenaghan, MABS, Mary Errity, MABS, Kathleen O’Boyle, CIS, Michelle O’Hara, CIS and Bobby Barbour, Abhaile.

Pictured from left outside the Citizens First marquee are from left: Mike Cummins, CIS, Claire Kellegher, Abhaile, Susan Ryan, CIS, Angela Black, Chief Executive, Nicola Walshe CIB, Bernie Keenaghan, MABS, Mary Errity, MABS, Kathleen O’Boyle, CIS, Michelle O’Hara, CIS and Bobby Barbour, Abhaile.