East Hampshire CAB
The CAB has had a busy and challenging year. Local residents have had to cope with the challenges of making ends meet in the recession and look to their CAB for help. The cuts in benefits are beginning to really bite home. Many local people are finding they have new forms to complete and medical assessments to attend. We have seen a number of people who have lost their main income in the changes. We are lucky in having a number of volunteers who are experts on the new law and we have been able to help many people to successfully challenge the decisions where they are wrong. Our advisers are also busy helping people with debt problems. We handled debts of over £19.8 million in the last financial year. While we will try to get unpayable debts written off, increasingly we are helping clients to get Debt Relief Orders where debts up to £15,000 can be dealt with but this route only suits certain clients. Anyone who thinks that their finances are getting out of control should contact us for a confidential free discussion where we can advise the best course of action for them.
The bureau is managing to cope with funding cuts which we have tried to tackle without impacting our services to clients. We still operate drop-in sessions at Petersfield, Alton and Bordon and have outreaches at Liphook and Horndean where local people can get help and advice. At least one outlet is open from 9.30 until 4pm Monday to Thursday with Bordon being open until 2pm on Fridays.
We have been lucky to be able to access money via our national association which has enabled us to upgrade our telephone and computer systems and allowed us to improve access by phone. We now we share a telephone number 0844 4111306 with a number of CABs across Hampshire which has increased the number of calls that can be answered – service open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Clients can access information 24 hours a day at www.adviceguide.org.uk.
We are lucky in having over 100 volunteers but are always looking to recruit more, so if you have around 6 hours spare a week and want a challenging role as an adviser, receptionist or clerical support do contact the local CAB.
Further information and an application form is available at www.citizensadvice.org.uk