A blue and yellow boomerang

I have just left the Citizens Advice service - for the third time. The joke, therefore, is that I will be back. Several of my colleagues have done just that (though I don't yet know anybody who has come back for a fourth term), boomeranging back after a time elsewhere. 

In my case, I realise that I have effectively done three four-year bursts: 1996-2000, 2003-2007 and now 2008-2012. That's three-quarters of my almost sixteen years as a vowed RSCJ, spent in several roles in a variety of bureaux, including in some of London's most deprived areas. As a former colleague once said of herself: cut me open, and you'll find a blue and yellow core!

As I look back on those twelve years I recall countless clients from my time as an adviser: their pain, hopelessness, confusion, anger, vulnerability... I recall the debt, inadequate housing, exploitation, complicated relationships, poverty; the bungling, inflexible government agencies, greedy landlords, exploitative employers, endless hours spent filling in forms and hanging on the phone. This was where the pierced Heart became more real, grounding me in hard reality while I studied theology.

Then I recall the hundred or more people I have trained, some of whom I'm still in touch with: the hard work, commitment and determination of many; the shock of those who thought it would be easy-peasy. I recall the moments when they blossomed, faced challenges, stretched and grew. Some now have paid jobs within the service, others have trained as solicitors or gone on to further study or related work; some others are still in the service, a small part of the army of volunteers without which it could not function, much less provide such a necessary service, especially in this time of recession and government cuts.

The sad fact is that each time I left the service I've felt this had to be as tough as it was ever going to get. Okay, in 2000 there was still some hope, but in 2007 it was clear to us that personal debt was spiralling out of control, even before the "credit crunch" became official. But the truly sad fact is that on both those occasions I was wrong: 2012 is so very much tougher, for our clients, definitely, but also for us and other advice agencies whose funding is being squeezed. When you provide a free service more clients is not good news! Instead, we've been facing a triple whammy: more clients, often with more complex needs; less funding and therefore fewer resources for providing a service; and now, legislation which provides us - and clients - with fewer options and rights.

I'm due to start a new ministry next month - a new role, with some new challenges. But a part of my heart - the part that's blue and yellow - will still be keeping an eye on what's going on in the world of CAB. Will I ever go back for a fourth term? I have no idea - only God knows that. All I can say is, watch this boomerang as it begins to fly...


  1. Blessings on your time of transition, Silvana, in whatever direction it finally takes you! How wonderful to think how many hearts your heart has touched!

  2. Thanks Antonia - that reminds me that new hearts lie ahead, along with the challenges...


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