Huge rise in people needing cost of living help from advice charity

A HUGE rise in problems with rising energy bills and use of foodbanks has prompted the Citizens Advice Bureau in Yate to move to larger offices.

The charity’s advisers are referring ten times as many people for foodbank vouchers as they were before the pandemic.

The charity says the cost of living crisis has brought so much extra pressure, it needs to double the number of people it can see face to face.

And it is asking the community to help raise £30,000 to pay for changes needed to their new home, and new equipment.

Move takes place next year

CAB South Gloucestershire hopes to move from its existing office in Yate Shopping Centre, where it has been for the last 20 years, to the Badminton Court clocktower offices next to Yate Railway Station in early 2024.

The new building will give the service eight rooms – twice the current number, which means they can help an additional 1,900 people a year.

CAB South Gloucestershire Chief Executive Chantal Watts said they hoped local people could donate £10 to support their work offering help with problems including  debt, benefits, energy, employment and housing.

She said: “We would be very grateful if you could spare £10 towards our cause.

“We appreciate not everyone can spare anything at the moment, so for those who can – it would be fantastic if you could consider donating more to “pay it forward” on behalf of fellow South Gloucestershire residents.”

The charity offers free advice, including web chat and face to face sessions.

10x increase in foodbank referrals and energy bill problems

Overall, the charity helped a total of 4,183 South Gloucestershire residents with 19,625 issues in 2022/23.

They had an average of six referrals for foodbank vouchers per month in 2019 – and now regularly have more than 60 a month.

Similarly, the charity saw more than 60 clients for energy issues in February of 2023 compared to six in February 2019.

The charity says the old premises have no public toilet, nowhere for disability scooters or buggies, and just ten desks shared between 37 people – 20 volunteer advisers and 17 staff.

The waiting area space is small and quickly becomes full during open-door advice sessions. This means people often have to stand, sit on the floor or queue outside while they wait to see a qualified adviser.

Money raised will help pay for alterations including a glazed partition, desks and chairs, waiting area seating, and new computers and phones.

How to donate or ask for advice

More details about the charity and how to donate to the appeal can be found on its website.

Cheques, payable to ‘Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire’, can be sent to Citizens Advice South Gloucestershire, Kennedy Way, Yate BS37 4DQ

Details on how to get advice can be found on the website or by calling 0808 278 7947.