In the second of our profiles celebrating ICAEW Manchester members who are making a difference in the community, we talk to Jill Crawley about her volunteer work with the charity Tax Help For Older People.
ICAEW Chartered Accountant and founder of Manchester-based accounting and tax practice Crawley & Co, Jill Crawley is also a volunteer with Tax Help For Older People. She first got involved with the charity – which provides free, independent advice to older people on low incomes who would not be able to pay for professional advice – around 15 years ago.
“It all began when I spotted an advert in one of the trade publications” says Jill, “the charity was looking for people with tax experience to join their team of volunteers. Not only was it an area in which I had professional experience, but I’d also spent a number of years helping my parents with their tax affairs, so I felt that I had an understanding of the issues that may be affecting the older people and it felt like a good time to use my expertise to give something back”.
The people who Jill helps turn to the charity for a number of reasons. For some it’s the confusion of being faced with unfamiliar tax codes after spending their working live being taxed under PAYE; for others issues arise because retirement means multiple income sources and foreign pensions; whilst for many the loss of the spouse who took care of the family finances has meant they’re suddenly faced with paperwork they don’t know how to deal with.
The stresses of these situations may also mean that fear of doing the “wrong thing” or not knowing where to access help, leads to people ignoring correspondence in the hope that everything will go away. It’s often the case that by the time that people do reach out for help, the situation is not only quite complex, but also requires a compassionate and sensitive approach.
Jill believes that the ability to handle things in a caring and sympathetic way is essential for volunteers. “As well as people who’ve become overwhelmed and who are perhaps experiencing ‘brown envelope phobia’, we also help a lot of widows and widowers. Many people who’ve lost their life partner are not only grieving but may also be having to deal with financial matters on their own for the first time in their lives; it’s a huge thing to have to cope with on top of the loss of their loved one and being able to guide them through that can be incredibly rewarding,” says Jill.
“It’s good to know that by sharing your professional expertise you’ve been able to not only help someone, but bring them real peace of mind,” she adds.
Sharing your time and expertise can make a real difference to the wider community; as Jill’s story demonstrates, guidance and advice from a finance professional can make a positive impact others. As Jill explains, it’s not just those who you help via volunteering who benefit, “the rewards in life are not just financial and when you see the stress vanish from people’s faces, that is reward enough”.
Got a story to share?
As part of the legacy of ICAEW Manchester’s 150th anniversary celebrations, we will be exploring the ways that our members make a difference to the wider community. If you’d like to share your story, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.