Vital cash boost for town advice centre

NEAALM110619C1 - Broxtowe Citizens Advice centre Eastwood
NEAALM110619C1 - Broxtowe Citizens Advice centre Eastwood

Citizens Advice Bureau in Eastwood has been given a vital cash injection after it received over £85,000 funding from national Government.

After Nottinghamshire County Council cut the bureau’s funding by 70 per cent, staff said opening hours would have to be reduced from five days a week to just two.

But the recent good news means Broxtowe Citizen’s Advice, which has offices in both Eastwood and Beeston, can now stay open four days a week, and take a lot more phone calls to help local residents.

Manager Sue Maslowska said: “It’s fantastic. Unexpected really. This is going to make a huge difference to our survival. We are all highly delighted.”

“If the service had closed there would have been nowhere else for these people to go. They would just have slipped through the net.”

The funding has come from the Government’s ‘transition’ fund – £107m being given to groups and charities nationwide struggling financially because of local authority budget cuts.

One of the criteria for the grant, is the organisation must use the money to make changes to the way it works.

The bureau plans to increase the number of calls it takes, and reduce the number of face-to-face meetings.

Staff currently only manage to answer 10 per cent of the phone calls, and last year 30,000 went unanswered.

Ms Maslowska said: “It will be good for us to access more people.

“The funding will enable us to recruit and train additional volunteers who will provide just telephone advice every day.”

The bureau manager met with cabinet minster Nick Herd back in February to tell him the impact reducing the opening hours would have had on the community.

She said she hoped the meeting may have improved her chances of being accepted for the grant.

Broxtowe MP Anna Soubry also fiercely campaigned in Parliament to keep the bureau open.

She said: “I am delighted the bureau has received this grant. It will help them to continue to provide an excellent service to people throughout the borough who need their specialized advice and guidance.

“I have campaigned since my election to champion the need to keep Broxtowe CAB fully-funded, especially in these difficult times.

“I raised the issue in Parliament and it looks like all our lobbying and Sue’s determination and skill has paid off.”

Ms Maslowska applied to a whopping 140 organisations for grant funding after hearing the county council was reducing the grant, and was accepted by 26 of them, being awarded a total of £150,000.

Face-to-face meetings will now be offered Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 9.30am to 12.30pm and Thursday 1pm until 4pm.

The changes will come in to operation next month and the grants will last until at least next March.

Last year Broxtowe Citizens Advice handled 33,000 inquiries about a variety of issues including debt, housing and homelessness.

Ms Maslowska said the demand for the service today is higher than ever before with more and more people losing their jobs, which made their support even more vital.

Anybody needing advice should ring 0844 4994194.