Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

CAB helping shoppers to beat the recession

A project ‘to help those most affected by recession’ launched at a Newtownbreda supermarket last week.

The new debt advice initiative called ‘Beat the Recession’ began its service from Newtownbreda Tesco last Friday (November 19) — with the focus on providing debt and money advice to the public in a variety of commonplace venues.

Citizens Advice Bureau is to lead the service, in partnership with Advice NI and the Law Centre NI — the organisations all making up the Advice Services Alliance consortium (ASA).

Barry McVeigh, Citizens Advice, said: “We are going to offer advice in non-traditional settings across Northern Ireland to support people affected by the recession who don’t use our services or are not aware of the support we offer.

“There are people out there who believe that nothing can be done to help them, but we will help them to realise that there is support available. We are also offering out of hours web chat, Skype and text message service by trained advisers.”

The Big Lottery Fund awarded the contract worth nearly £800,000 to the Advice Services Alliance consortium to deliver this project across Northern Ireland. The three organisations are targeting people affected by the recession who may not be aware that help is available.

Kevin Higgins, Advice NI, said: “The Advice Services Alliance consortium harnesses the strengths of the advice network across Northern Ireland. In the current economic crisis many in Northern Ireland are struggling to pay bills and make ends meet. This contract will enhance debt advice provision and make it easier for people in need and financial distress to access timely, accurate, quality assured money advice”.

Citizens Advice will provide debt advice via a number of ‘Roadshows’ in venues such as Tesco, Libraries NI, sporting venues and health centres, in conjunction with an innovative web-based service offering advice by webchat, Skype and text message. Advice NI will offer free legal representation for people facing repossession in court. Other services offered include help for people facing redundancy or cuts in working hours, targeted support for people in areas that have been most affected by the recession, and working with community champions to make people more aware of the support that’s available.

Law Centre NI will provide a link through to specialist legal advice on employment law for those facing redundancy or reduced working hours.

Frank Hewitt, Big Lottery Fund’s Northern Ireland Chair, said: “We are very aware of the tough times people are experiencing and the increased demand this is inevitably placing on advice services. The Big Lottery Fund has awarded this contract to ASA as they have expert knowledge of where need is greatest and experience of money advice in Northern Ireland.

For more information contact Barry McVeigh, on 02890 262528/ 07711 982 676 or visit www.beattherecession.me

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