More volunteers to champion consumer rights

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MORE citizen consumer champions are wanted in Bury St Edmunds to spread Trading Standards’ message.

Suffolk Trading Standards’ (STS) Consumer Champions scheme began in January but only three of its 62 champions are Bury based.

STS community engage-ment officer Sarah Nagra said volunteer champions were a link between the community and Trading Standards.

“We would love to be everywhere and to do everything, but we can‘t,” she said. “That’s why we want to use people who are already in their community.”

The idea is not new: Staffordshire has had its consumer champions for 10 years and has 850 volunteers registered.

In Suffolk, volunteers can choose three levels.

The most basic is to sign up for email alerts giving information about consumer matters and alerting people to local problems, in the same way as Suffolk Police’s Police Direct scheme does on criminal activity.

Then there are two volunteer levels. Both get an hour of initial training, a detailed manual and access to a private website for swapping information and downloading documents.

Level Two volunteers also get refresher training and talks by experts.

Sarah said their most active volunteer had made his own flyers, put up posters, given talks and was hoping to work with his parish council.

“He’s the pinnacle,” she said. “But, for example, we’ve sent out a poster and asked them to put it up locally. The idea is that they share information with people they know.”

Being in the community they also hear of things that may have been missed. One consumer champion heard of someone who had been taken to a bank by a trader and made to withdraw a large sum of money, but they had not reported it. The champion spoke with her neighbour and the case is now being dealt with by Trading Standards.

For more details visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/consumerchampion or call Sarah on 01473 265822.