Financial advice offered in Swanage as cost of living bites

A service by Citizens Advice Bureau has restarted in Swanage to help those struggling with their finances.

Before the pandemic, drop-in clinics were held regularly in the town but stopped when Covid restrictions prevented face to face meetings taking place. Now they’re back, just when they are needed more than ever.

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Citizens Advice advisor June Fletcher at Herston Village Hall

Struggling to make ends meet

With inflation in the UK rising rapidly, fuel prices increasing, heating costs going up and a shortage of property to rent, it’s important for those struggling to make ends meet, to have access to practical help.

A Citizens Advice adviser will be at Herston Village Hall every first Monday in the month, although this month, because of the bank holiday it’s on Monday 9th May 2022.

This coincides with the community cafe at the hall in Jubilee Road, so anyone can drop in between 10 am and 12 noon for a tea or coffee, as well as speaking confidentially to the adviser.

Herston Village hall  community cafe
Sarah Spurling at Herston village hall

As well as the Citizen’s Advice drop-in sessions at the community café, Sarah Spurling (centre) is setting up a community pantry to redistribute food with a short shelf life to save it from being thrown away

“There’s always a way to get back on the right track”

Citizens Advice advisor June Fletcher said:

“I’m going to be here at Herston Hall to help anyone who would like a bit of advice or to talk through their problems and be pointed in the right direction.

“We can help by doing a check for benefit entitlement, identifying ways to reduce an energy bill, as well as looking at debts and how to best manage them.

“Sometimes people arrive to see me with a plastic bag full of bills, too afraid to open them. I can help by starting to sort them all out.

“There’s always a way to get back on the right track and we can look at getting interest suspended or even a debt relief order, which can help people start again.”

If the informal drop-in sessions are popular and there’s demand for more, then the service may be available every Monday morning in Swanage.

Citizens Advice Bureau also offers drop-in sessions at its Wareham Office at 2 Mill Lane every Tuesday and Thursday 10 am to 12 noon.

Herston Village hall bunting

Herston Village Hall bunting created by local resident Thelma Deacon

Community hub

The new Citizens Advice sessions are only one of a number of activities based at Herston Village Hall.

Now that groups can meet again free from Covid restrictions, there’s something happening most days at the hall which aims to become an established community hub.

  • Community cafe: Mondays 10 am to 12 noon term time
  • Board games evening: Third Tuesday of the month 7 pm to 9 pm
  • Seahorses playgroup: Wednesdays 9.30 am to 11 am term time
  • Youth club: Fridays term time – Year 6 at 6 pm to 7.30 pm and Year 7 to 9 at 7.45 pm to 9.15 pm
  • Craft circle: First Saturday of the month 10 am to 12 noon
Kim Gallagher and Mayor Avril Harris at Herston Hall

Kim Gallagher (left) with Swanage Town Mayor councillor Avril Harris at the community café

“Aiming to improve wellbeing across Swanage”

Secretary of the Purbeck and Swanage Development Trust and one of those driving the community hub project at Herston Village Hall, Kim Gallagher said:

“It’s great to see Herston Village Hall being used again and brilliant to be able to offer the Citizens Advice sessions for the Swanage community, as well as all the activities for children and adults.

“It’s about helping our community thrive. Sadly there are less public services available but we’re spotting the gaps, helping people reconnect within the community and aiming to improve wellbeing across Swanage”

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