Fleetwood is to get its own permanent Citizens’ Advice Bureau for the first time in seven years, it has been confirmed.
And it will become part of a one-stop shop for those in need of support in the town.
It comes at a time when concerns about benefit changes and financial issues have led to a rise in people seeking help.
The new facility will be based at the office of Fleetwood Town Council, on Poulton Road, which the local council is offering for free.
Lancashire West CAB, which will provide the advice service, is able to open the new centre thanks to the free accommodation and on-going funding from Wyre Council, to the tune of £30,000 per year.
And with the council offices already playing host to the Fleetwood Advocacy Service, which does not dispense advice but offers help with form filling and other support, the premises will now become a one-shop stop for vital help.
No date has yet been set for opening of the CAB office, but office equipment is being installed and volunteers are being sought as of now.
Town Council chairman, Coun Terry Rogers, said: “The area has some of the most deprived wards in the whole of the North West.
“Already, many people are coming to the new Town Council offices asking for advice on things like benefit and debt so it will be a real bonus when there are real CAB advisers on hand for them to talk to.”
And Coun Pete Murphy, Wyre Council’s economy portfolio holder said: “This is great news for the local residents.
“This much-needed facility will offer on-the-spot help for those who need it, providing face-to-face advice and not just down a phone line.
“And of course this is not just for Fleetwood residents; everyone in the borough will have access to the facility and I know they will find it a great help.”
Fleetwood’s former CAB office on Lord Street closed in 2007 when Wyre Council had to downscale its cash support.
Wyre’s permanent CAB services then switched to Cleveleys, but this premises was also forced to close in 2010.
There have been various outreach sessions in Fleetwood, with Sure Start Fleetwood and then West View Community Centre staging several sessions each month.
But the return of a permanent office in the port has been welcomed.
Citizens Advice depends almost entirely on funding from local authorities and other bodies but it also needs around three unpaid volunteers for every one staff member in order to deliver the comprehensive service it is known for.
Lancashire West CAB is looking for advisers, assessors and switchboard/admin volunteers to work alongside a full-time advice session supervisor at the new Fleetwood bureau.
All volunteers will receive full training and can give as much or as little time as they are able.
Diane Gradwell, chief executive at Lancashire West CAB said: “We are very excited about having the opportunity to extend our work in Fleetwood – and very grateful to the Wyre Borough and Fleetwood Town Councils for their support – but we also need volunteers.
“Those who work in our other bureaux, in Chorley, Leyland and Skelmersdale, say the work is very satisfying and many find it a useful addition to their CV in seeking all kinds of careers.”
This new provision will be an addition to the established CAB outreach advice sessions in Fleetwood and Wyre.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer at the Bureau can call (01772) 425912, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call in to the Town Council office at 122, Poulton Road, Fleetwood.