Cheltenham Citizens' Advice Bureau to stay open
CHELTENHAM Citizens' Advice Bureau has been saved from closure following a mystery benefactor donating £35,000.
The CAB feared it could close earlier this year after it lost a £155,000 contract with Cheltenham Borough Council to provide advice on housing and related debt issues to residents.
But a surprise donation, along with a £60,000 council grant over the next two years, has enabled the branch to remain open.
The Cheltenham, Cirencester and Tewkesbury CAB helped 8,849 clients in between April 2011 and March 2012 by providing free and confidential advice to people on topics including debt, benefits, housing, employment, relationships, immigration and health.
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The CAB, based in St James' Square, faced closure after last year it lost the contract it had since April 2008 to deal with housing-related debts or benefits.
The bureau has since had to close on Fridays and open 10am to 4pm, instead of 9am to 5pm, because of the funding issues.
Two caseworkers and one member of administration staff were made redundant and other have seen their hours reduce.
Gill Payne, trustee board member, wanted to remind the public the CAB is still open.
She said: "In the current economic environment more and more people find themselves facing real difficulties, whether the most vulnerable in society or those who wouldn't normally ask for help.
"The CAB continues to provide the services the community needs, when people need that support.
"Like so many other charities, we are also facing pressures and at Christmas it looked as if we may have to close but we are determined to continue to deliver our highly valued advice services.
"We want to remind people we are still here and as ever we are providing the expertise, knowledge, confidentiality and trusted advice that make a difference to people's lives.
"But we need help to promote our services and to improve our fundraising so that we can do even more for people in our communities as the economic and employment market continues to be tough for so many of us."
It costs £297,000 to keep the CAB service in Cheltenham, Cirencester and Tewkesbury open.
The organisation currently gains £15,000 through fundraising, but hopes to increase this to £60,000 a year.
Currently 40 volunteers help out in Cheltenham, but the CAB wants to see 50 to 55 people, including professional expertise and support, helping out with a new marketing and fundraising strategy.
Anyone willing to help can contact Zoe Holland on 01242 531313.