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By Ian Dipple Friday 02 November 2012 Updated: 02/11 08:29
MORE people than ever before across Alcester and Studley are seeking help with debts and benefits advice according to new figures.
Stratford Citizens' Advice Bureau runs a limited outreach service in the two areas and in the last financial year both dealt with almost 1,700 enquiries.
In Alcester there were 958 enquiries, of which 365 were related to benefits, 284 were to do with debts and another 309 were in connection with employment or other issues. Of the 724 enquiries dealt with by the Studley branch, 285 were related to benefits, 226 were asking for help with debts, and the remainder were to do with employment or other issues.
Across Stratford District as a whole, the charity - which relies on volunteers to offer free, impartial advice - saw over 5,000 people, dealt with 14,500 enquiries, handled £5million worth of debt and saved 76 households from homelessness.
Sue Green, manager of Stratford CAB, said the figures revealed the hidden hardship many families were facing covered by the belief the district was almost immune to the impact of the recession.
"There is genuine hardship here, the number of vulnerable people needing help from us due to money problems has more than doubled over the past two years," she said.
"But we don't only pick up the pieces and help people get back on their feet. We're being pro-active in helping our clients be better prepared for the challenges that face them and some 1,300 people have had financial capability training from us in the past year. We hope future funding can be secured to allow this pre-emptive, educational approach to become a regular feature of our armoury."
A drop-in service is run out of the Studley office in the Village Hall between 10am and 1pm on the first and third Tuesdays in the month.
The Alcester service is based at Globe House and is open on Tuesdays between 10am and 1pm. To book an appointment call 01789 200136.
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