Ashfield’s Citizens Advice Bureau is celebrating 21 years of providing residents with much needed help and support - and is finding its service more in demand than ever.
Since it opened its doors, the CAB has provided advice 66,050 people from around the district, supporting them through a whopping 323,500 problems.
It has dealt with £114m of debt and through its work has helped local people gain £26m of additional benefits.
Chief executive Sue Davis said that the type of issues that residents come to the charity with now are often far more complicated than they once would have been.
“A third of the work people come to us with is debt and a third is benefit issues,” she said.
“That has not changed over the years.
“But what has happened is the amount of people and the amount of issues that people bring in have gone up.
“People bring in about five problems to resolve each. It has become more complex as the years have gone on.”
In the 21 years it has been running, the CAB has seen a 36 per cent increase in the amount of people asking for help and a 40 per cent increase in the number of problems that people bring.
Alarmingly, there has been an 83 per cent increase in debt.
Sue said that in the past clients would come in with just one problem - a particular debt or after having lost their job - but now they tend to have associated issues that also need dealing with.
These can include housing problems, employment issues or relationship problems.
All visitors to the CAB, on Market Street in Sutton, will be seen by a volunteer advisor before being referred to a specialist debt or benefits caseworker if needed.
The advice is all free for clients but the biggest challenge that the charity faces is securing enough funding to maintain its invaluable service.
“A year or so ago we were dealing with £17m worth of debt and now the current figure is £8m,” said Sue.
“That is not because debt has gone away but because we used to have three debt caseworkers and now can only fund one and a half.
“It’s due to our capacity to deal with it.”
The CAB has recently secured Big Lottery funding to develop a one-stop-shop advice concept for Ashfield but more funding is always needed for its normal service provision.
Sue added: “We will still need to source funds to keep our doors open while we develop an enhanced service.”