The facility – at the Civic Centre in Leyland – will launch once the local authority’s offices reopen whenever the coronavirus crisis abates.
Confidential and impartial advice will be available on a range of issues – including debt, benefits and housing. Papers presented to a South Ribble Borough Council cabinet meeting note the crossover with the authority’s own services which can – in ordinary times – also be accessed in person at the council offices in West Paddock.
Once it is established, the new Citizens Advice outlet will operate five days a week – with a walk-in option on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10am and 4pm and pre-booked appointments required on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Telephone and online support will still be offered from the existing Leyland base of the Lancashire branch of the charity on Towngate – which is continuing to operate throughout the pandemic.
Council leader Paul Foster told the cabinet meeting that he was “absolutely convinced that, post-Covid, Citizens Advice is going to be particularly busy here”.
The authority has committed to the arrangement for a minimum of four years and is providing a net £30,000 grant to the organisation during the current financial year. As a condition of the funding, the outcomes of the co-located service will be monitored to assess their impact.
The charity is also seeking additional volunteers to help deliver the new service.
Cllr Aniela Bylinski-Gelder, cabinet member for social justice, customer engagement and wealth building said that Citizens Advice can be “a lifeline” for locals who are struggling.
“We are dedicated to ensuring that people right across our communities can get the support they need. The coronavirus has showed how important it is that localised support is available – our community recovery effort, South Ribble Together, has been supporting thousands in the community – and it’s important that this is available all the time.
“I would encourage anyone who is seeking support, to get in touch,” she added.
Diane Gradwell, chief executive of Citizens Advice Lancashire, said that the charity welcomed the chance to work more closely with the council in South Ribble.
GET IN TOUCH WITH CITIZENS ADVICE LOCALLY
For general advice – call 0344 245 1294
For Universal Credit queries – call 0800 1448 444
For volunteering opportunities – email [email protected]
Website – www.citizensadvicelancashire.org.uk