Residents’ advice lifeline closes down after Government cuts
12:00am Thursday 27th March 2014 in By Elizabeth Mackley
PARK SOUTH residents lost a vital lifeline yesterdaywhen the Advice Point in Cavendish Square shut up shop for the last time.
The centre, which offered tailored advice and support to some of the most deprived families in the country, has been a fixture in the community for the past three decades.
But after Government cuts saw essential legal services funding withdrawn from the project, the Advice Point has been living hand to mouth.
Jill Webster, manager at the Advice Point for the past 16 years, said: “We lost our legal services funding a few years ago.
“Since then we’ve been scraping around for grants, donations, anything to keep us going.
“But the money has dried up and we have had to close.”
Over the years the Advice Point has become a vital life-line for people seeking support in a number of situations, from filling in forms to claiming benefits to advice in regards to debt, eviction and bankruptcy.
Ernie Boote, 54, of South View Street, is one of the Advice Centre’s longest clients.
He said: “I have been with the Advice Point for a long time, even before when it was something else.
“They have just helped me with so much, filling in forms for the council, helping me with my disability benefits.
“I don’t know what I am going to do now they have closed. “They have been so helpful. If I have any problems to do with anything they always try and help.
“i’m really sad that they’re going now.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Although the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) will continue to run out of the premises two days a week, clients will no longer benefit from the caring community feel they have grown used to.
Jill said: “Luckily all three of my staff have now been employed by CAB since it’s a very specialist area, so that is a positive.
“It’s always been a very community-based operation.
“We get to know the people and their families down the generations and also they get to know us. If someone comes in and sees a particular person they will continue to see that person.
“We’re also very caring and we’re independent, which means we don’t have the restrictions that other organisations might do.”
Yesterday volunteers, staff and clients as well as other members of the community popped in to say their goodbyes over cakes and nibbles.
Jill said: “It’s very sad. But it’s been lovely having so many people come along to say goodbye. Even the guys who fitted the fire extinguishers came along.
“People have just been filtering in and out since 9.30am.”