The centre was founded in 1971, with a small group of volunteers providing information services and advice from a small office, Falcon Court, behind Woolworths in the market place. At that time we were known as the Community Information Centre, our name changing in 2001. There was a move to Mill Street in the Eighties and to our present location in 1995. Over the years the organisation has developed into the Advice Centre we have today, with over 110 volunteers including nearly 60 volunteer drivers and 30 volunteer good neighbours. In 2011 we expanded our premises to provide more space and a more appropriate environment, including meeting room facilities. We became a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) in January 2016 which resulted in a further name change – Wantage Independent Advice Centre, in the Vale for the Vale.
In June 2017, we were shortlisted to be the Sainsbury’s Wantage local charity of the year. The WIAC is proud to be one of three charities selected for this shortlist. We are up against stiff competition and voting has now concluded. The results will be announced on 10th July.
Our transport scheme provides travel to hospitals, doctors, Day Centres, shops etc for people who are unable to use public transport. This is becoming more and more essential in a rural area and our drivers cover in the region of 6,500 miles a month. Our Good Neighbour scheme was started in April 2009 and provides volunteers for befriending perhaps over a cup of tea or to help with small tasks, such as simple DIY eg putting up shelves, paperwork, de-cluttering, collecting prescriptions etc for clients who are unable to manage the task themselves or lack the confidence to tackle the matter alone. Some of our drivers had already been assisting clients with small tasks, over and above their driving work, where they found a transport client in need and through their feedback we decided to make this a formal scheme.
Advice services cover a wide range of topics, including debt management, benefit entitlements, employment rights, consumer rights and many more. Our volunteers have a wealth of experience and in addition we are able to provide clients with free legal advice, time and expertise generously donated by local professionals. Furthermore, other agencies and organisations hold sessions or group meetings at our premises throughout the month. In 2008 we received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The WIAC has 14 trustees who form the Management Committee, four of whom are nominated representatives from various Councils. The Chairman is presently Peter Harbour.
Photograph: Our, then, Chairman Ann Rowe with Lord Lieutenant of Oxford, Hugo Brunner and our volunteers at the presentation of the Queen’s Award in 2008.
Ann Rowe has been compiling a history of our charity, an exercise started some time ago by ex-Committee Members and volunteers. In time this will be available through this website and hopefully also published on local history social media pages. For now though, there is a brief summary available from our offices at 16 Market Place to whet the appetite!
Our 2017 Annual General Meeting was held on 20th June at The Beacon in Wantage. The evening was a great success and we were delighted to welcome over 50 people to the AGM event which, alongside requirements in accordance with our Constitution and Charity Commission guidelines, provided individuals with the opportunity to learn more about our organisation and ask questions. Come along next year….the date has been set as 26th June for AGM 2018 with venue details to follow nearer the time.