Advice bureau in desperate need of help

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EASTBOURNE Citizens Advice Bureau desperately needs to raise at least £20,000 to avoid reducing its opening hours and helping fewer clients.

It has issued an urgent appeal for financial support from the town and for help from fund-raisers.

The Bureau has operated at a loss for the past few years, but has covered this with funding from its reserves.

In the current financial year it is likely to record a deficit of £20,000, and in 2011/12 it faces a worsening situation with the prospect of losing some £27,000 in funding from public sector sources.

An emergency budget has been drawn up and paid staff have been told that it may be necessary to reduce their hours. If this happens, the Bureau’s general advice service would be reduced from five days to four.

Bureau manager Alan Bruzon said, “The greatest part of our funding comes from Eastbourne Borough Council, and we have been told that this will continue, for which we are enormously grateful.

“However, other sources of funding, such as East Sussex County Council, are drying up, leaving us with the prospect of an even greater deficit. We appeal to local businesses, organisations which support charities, and individuals to help us meet the shortfall.

“We would be delighted to hear from people with fundraising experience who could volunteer some of their time.”

A reduced service from the Bureau would be a devastating blow for those who need to call on its help.

Staff and volunteers are already under pressure from increasing numbers of people who need advice on employment, debt and benefit issues resulting from the economic crisis.

Last year the Bureau helped 3,257 clients and achieved a total financial gain for them of more than £140,000.

And it also helped people manage debt amounting to £5.2 million.

Mr Bruzon added, “We have a highly committed staff and a fantastic team of 75 volunteers, and the demand for our service is increasing all the time.

“It would be very sad for Eastbourne if our hours had to be cut.

“We appeal to the community to help us maintain our vital work.” You can contact Mr Bruzon on 413480, or e-mail manager@eastbournecab.cabnet.org.uk