The Princess Royal, who is patron of Citizens Advice, was welcomed by trustees’ chairman Irene Campbell; chief executive Emma Cross; Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex, The Lord Egremont; and Horsham District Council chairman David Skipp.
During her visit, the princess spoke with staff and volunteers about their work in the community, the challenges the pandemic presented for their service and how they are overcoming them.
Chief executive Emma Cross said: “We were honoured to have The Princess Royal visit our Horsham office, and being able to discuss the hard work of our staff and volunteers and the positive impact we have had on our community.
“We are so grateful for her support and are proud to have continued to be there for West Sussex residents through these challenging past 18 months.
“Whilst we have changed how we run our service, we remain committed to being there for everyone.”
In 2020-2021, the charity supported more than 30,000 clients who came to them with almost 100,000 problems, such as debt, benefits, housing and employment.
The charity was a part of the community response to the pandemic, helping people to access emergency food and energy.
Princess Anne heard how to maintain the service and be available for clients, they had to immobilise their workforce and begin working remotely from home so people could continue to access their service.
She heard how throughout the pandemic, staff endeavoured to be available for face-to-face interactions with clients when necessary and when there were no other options, ensuring they continued to reach the local community in need.
As part of her tour, The Princess Royal met the community engagement team and heard how they have been working in partnerships to develop new services, improve access to information and create forums to share insight and feedback from Horsham’s diverse communities.
This work included building networks of volunteers to share vital information, such as those related to Covid-19 and lung cancer.
Horsham supervisor Barry Carter said: “The Princess Royal visiting was fantastic and it was an opportunity for the brilliant volunteers to get recognition for all the hard work they have endured throughout the pandemic.
“She kindly told one of our receptionists that she is an important part of the service, as this is the first port of call for all clients and if they didn’t like the receptionist then they wouldn’t use the service, which I think made her day!”
Having toured the local office, the princess ended her visit by fondly reminiscing with a staff member, who presented her with a picture of them meeting 45 years ago at the Royal Tournament.
The pair agreed, they hadn’t changed a bit.
To find out more about Citizens Advice in West Sussex (North, South, East), visit: www.advicewestsussex.org.uk