AFTER 75 years at Faringdon House, Swindon Citizens Advice Bureau is shutting up shop and moving its operations to Sanford House, where a new era awaits.
The advice charity will take up a prominent role at the newly created Swindon Advice and Support Centre, which opens up for business on June 18 in Sanford Street.
Since opening up in 1939, Swindon CAB has helped hundreds of thousands of town residents with almost every kind of problem. It is hoped the move will encourage more people to make use of this increasingly professional service.
Claire Newport, chief executive of the Swindon branch for eight years, said: “It’s a real mix of emotions actually, because we love this building, but we’ve kind of outgrown it a little bit.
“It’s looking tired and actually we are providing a professional service. All our volunteers provide a professional service and we are moving into a building where clients will feel more welcomed.”
By the time the centre is opened later this month, there will be up to 10 charities and bodies working to provide a one-stop shop for Swindon people seeking help with health, wellbeing and social care.
Swindon CAB will operate via two entrances. The charity will be represented at the information point at the main entrance and there will be a secondary entrance on College Street, which will be exclusively for those wanting to use the CAB.
There are 22 paid staff working for Swindon CAB, with another 60 volunteers also boosting ranks at a charity which has seen demand rise for the past six years, in line with mounting social problems.
“Demand is increasing and it has been for the past five or six years,” said Mrs Newport.
“There is no sign of it slowing up just yet, either. It’s important that more people are able to gain access to our services.
“There’s a change in profile of people that come to us. There are more and more people coming and the demographic is expanding.
“People are no longer coming to us just because it’s credit card debts, a lot of people are coming in because they can’t pay their utility bills. It’s not just luxury goods, it’s day-to-day living.”
Whilst Swindon CAB waves goodbye to Faringdon House today, it spent yesterday kitting out its new offices with help from Sketch Studios, an office design company based in London.
One of the directors at Sketch is married to a CAB volunteer which led to a partnership between the two organisations.
Sketch arranged for £50,000 of furniture to be delivered and installed at the new offices yesterday, free of charge, with donations from their own suppliers.
The last drop-in session at Faringdon House will take place between 9.15am and 1pm today before the centre reopens at Sanford House on June 18 at 9.15am.
During the closure, limited services will be run from Pinetrees Community Centre, Park Library and on 0844 499 4114. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.