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‘Perfect storm’ warning and volunteer appeal as Norfolk Citizens Advice has to turn people away

PUBLISHED: 08:35 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 19:15 25 May 2017

David Potten, acting chief executive of Norfolk Citizens Advice.

David Potten, acting chief executive of Norfolk Citizens Advice.

Archant

People desperate for help from a Norfolk charity have had to be turned away because of a ‘perfect storm’ of funding cuts and a shortage of volunteers.

Frustrated bosses at Citizens Advice were forced to tell people calling at its Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn branches last week that a shortage of volunteers meant they could not see them.

And the charity’s acting chief executive has made an impassioned appeal for 50 volunteers to plug gaps at its branches in Attleborough, Fakenham, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn, North Walsham, Norwich and Wymondham.

Norfolk Citizens Advice’s acting chief executive David Putton warned the charity, which gives free, confidential information and advice on money, legal, consumer and other problems, was facing a “serious challenge to its work”.

In an email sent to staff and volunteers he urged them to help spread the word the charity is in desperate need of more volunteers.

He said: “Demand for our services is outstripping the ability of our 150 volunteers to meet that demand. It may be an overused phrase, but we are facing a ‘perfect storm’: funding cuts have not only hit our own work, but that of other charities offering expert assistance.

“As a result their clients are now turning to us, at a time when we are also suffering from a shortage of volunteers to deal with enquiries. It is frightening to see the impact the funding cuts are having. Frankly, the situation is becoming very serious indeed.”

The charity has already had to reduce its opening hours at its branches in Wymondham and Attleborough, with Mr Potten saying that was because of cuts to funding.
He said: “The clients who come to Citizens Advice offices are those with complex problems, or clients who are disabled or face mental health challenges and cannot cope with an increasingly on-line world of benefits and advice.”

Last year, 100,000 people in Norfolk - one in seven of the population - visited the Citizens Advice website and the charity last month appealed for more volunteers in Great Yarmouth.

Anyone interested in volunteering for Citizens Advice can call 01603 273116, email v.recruitment@ncab.org.uk or visit the website.

• We would like to hear from people who were turned away and from people who want to praise Citizens Advice for the help they gave. Call Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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