KENDAL’S Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) opened its doors today more than a year after having to close down because funding had dried up.
For two days a week the centre on Blackhall Road will once again be open to give free help and advice to people struggling with debt and other financial problems.
In February last year the charity’s Trustee Board announced that the Kendal and Ulverston offices had become ‘financially unviable’ and had to close.
They said that although the funding from South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) had remained the same, grants from other sources had shrunk as a result of public spending cuts.
Kendal’s caseload was taken over by Cumbria Rural CAB, which operates out of Windermere Library with an outlet at Grange-over-Sands and an outreach at Ambleside Parish Centre.
But Bureau Manager Karen Evans said: “The board identified that the need wasn’t going to go away and they looked at whether more services could be offered.”
The Ulverston office opened its doors part-time last autumn and as of this week the Kendal branch will re-open on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Although Cumbria Rural CAB, soon to be known as South Lakes CAB, still receives funding from SLDC and other local councils, Ms Evans said it had had to be ‘proactive’ in finding additional funding, and had now set up an Income Generation Group.
Ms Evans said: “We’re all very pleased that we have been able to open the doors because we know that there is a need in Kendal and that the best way of serving that need is to have a physical presence in the town.
“The demand for CAB is increasing and we anticipate that now we have the physical presence it’s going to grow even more.”
On the financial struggles faced by people in the area Ms Evans said, “What’s happening in South Lakeland follows the national trend.
“The main issue we see is the changes to Welfare Reform, we’re also seeing an increase in people using payday loans, we have patches of unemployment and issues with zero-hour contracts.”
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The centre will be open from 10am-2pm for appointments.
There will also be a Gateway Service for 10-minute assessments and a telephone service across the South Lakes operating 10am-4pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10am-6pm on Tuesday and Thursday and 10am-1pm on Saturday.
The Kendal opening times will be reviewed in around three months when the charity will decide whether to increase or change them.