CITIZENS’ ADVICE BUREAU: A weekly service not justified

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I write with reference to the article (“CAB Under Fire”)which was in your paper on the May 9.

Firstly may I assure readers the decision to reduce Citizens Advice service in Sutton Bridge was not taken lightly and not without consultation.

We are a charity and highly trained volunteers provide the majority of our service to the public.

We need to ensure that resources, both funding and volunteer time are utilised to the greatest effect, allowing us to deal with as many clients as need our service. As demand for our service has grown since the start of the year this is especially important now.

We have provided a weekly service at the Curlew Centre since April 2012 and have continuously monitored the number of clients who use it, as we do at all our offices. When the service started we were unsure of demand and agreed with the Curlew Centre management that service would initially be weekly. Experience has shown that it takes a while for local residents to become aware of any new services. Consequently we have actively promoted the service we offer in all communications as well as having posters in local shops and premises in Sutton Bridge.

Over the year the number of local residents using the service in Sutton Bridge has waned. This makes it difficult to justify a weekly service and therefore a decision was made to reduce to monthly. Following a meeting with representatives from the Curlew Centre we agreed to continue to review demand and meet again in early July.

In the interim both the Centre and the Bureau will continue to promote the service and also monitor client enquiries. If it is found that there is a demand for our services from the residents of Sutton Bridge to justify restarting the weekly service, then this is something we would be only too happy to consider.

It is also worth mentioning that we provide a weekly service at Sutton Bridge Childrens Centre.

Finally, as mentioned, we rely heavily on a team of dedicated volunteers to provide our service. If any of your readers are interested in volunteering would they please contact me at the Spalding office.

John Willoughby

South Holland CAB