New Debt Advice Service Is Launched
A new debt advice service was launched at Acocks Green library this week. Charitable body, The Severn Trent Trust Fund (STTF) and Birmingham Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) developed the new service – Stay Afloat – to bring specialist water debt advice into the community via local libraries. The service is being funded by STTF as part of the Gateway to Birmingham Advice Services (GBAS) initiative.
The event which was attended by representatives from GBAS and was hosted by Birmingham CAB CEO Janice Nichols and MP for Yardley Jess Phillips was special guest.
Janice Nichols thanked the libraries that have supported the project and helped to make it a truly community based initiative, she said, “We have been able to go out into communities and provide a service to people who might not otherwise have sought professional help. During the last three months we have seen 112 clients and dealt with debt of around £430,000, with over £35,000 related to water debts.” Jess Phillips welcomed the project, she said, “Needing help with finances is something that many of us will need at some stage of our lives, but it has not always been easy to get advice. It is fantastic to see such a high quality service being made so accessible.”
Advice via the service is available to anyone either via one of the GBAS partners, or directly via drop-in-sessions being held in six libraries across the city. These include; Kings Heath, Small Heath, Druids Heath, Acocks Green, Birchfield and Handsworth libraries.
GBAS is a partnership of 15 local community organisations, ranging from Action for Blind People to Birmingham Community Law Centre (and many more), who all work together to improve access to advice for residents of Birmingham.
Chris Green, Specialist Caseworker at Birmingham CAB comments, “Taking the advice into the community and locating the surgeries in the local library has proved to work really well. We are accessible and approachable, making it easy for people to seek the help they need.”
Picture: MP Jess Phillips, Gay Hammett, STTF Community Grants Manager, Janice Nichols CEO Birmingham CAB, Stuart Bradley, STTF