Advice Hub gets £350,000 funding

THE ADVICE Hub in London Road, St Leonards, has received a huge boost in the form of £350,000 in lottery funding.

The funding coincides with the first anniversary of the opening of the hub at Renaissance House, and the aim is to allow the agencies to look at new ways of working more effectively.

Jacky Everard, Hastings Advice and Representation Centre (HARC) chief executive, said: “It has given us the ability to look forward and to put things in place, being more proactive than reactive.

“It is allowing us to come up with more inventive projects.”

The bid was submitted by the partnership of Citizens Advice 1066, HARC, and BHT Hastings Advice.

Jo Wilson, manager at BHT Hastings Advice, said: “In terms of attracting funding, the application was made a lot easier by being under one roof.”

Having just come through a period of financial uncertainty, as a result of significant funding cuts, the money from the Big Lottery Fund’s Advice Services Transition Fund is a positive development.

Up to 25 per cent of the funding, which is available over two years, can be used for core services, the rest must be used to look into different ways of working.

One project in the pipeline, to be led by CA 1066 is a redevelopment of the reception at The Advice Hub.

Instead of all clients using the Gateway Service, there are to be a number of information point assistants, who will be able to immediately help those with less complex queries, freeing up advisors.

There are also plans to go into schools and teach the older students about debt, as a form of early intervention.

Working closely with GP surgeries to offer “advice by prescription” is on the cards, as is working with police to help for example an emerging group of people shoplifting baby food and nappies.

Dina Christodoulou, chief executive of CA 1066, said “All of a sudden, our finances are stabilised for two years.

“We are in a good position to be able to embrace the challenges.”

It is too early to assess the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms, more of which are set to be introduced throughout the remainder of the year, but with the main advice agencies under one roof, clients can expect a much more joined up service.

There was £65 million available under the Advice Services Transition Fund, and more than £1 million of this has come into East Sussex (excluding Brighton).

The Advice Hub is open from 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

Call 01424 428375.