Citizens Advice North Norfolk forced to cut services after missing out on �100k funding

Scores of vulnerable people across north Norfolk are having a vital advice service pulled from under their feet after a charity missed out on important funding.

Citizens Advice North Norfolk (CANN) is facing a shortfall of �100,000 after it was unsuccessful in a bid for Lottery cash and is now having to scrap its work in some of the district's most deprived areas.

The loss of these outreach services has been described as 'devastating' for clients as it will leave those most in need struggling to find help.

For the past five years, CANN has been holding weekly and fortnightly sessions in Sheringham, Stalham, Hoveton, Buxton, Bacton and Mundesley, for those who would have difficulty getting to its main North Walsham branch.

The funding blow, which has been compounded by other grant schemes drying up, means these sessions will have to stop at the end of April.

And it means the group is having to drop its Monday evening and Saturday morning sessions, cut the services of its specially trained debt advisor and make staff redundancies.

Fiona Hunter, CANN chief officer, said: 'It's leaving a huge hole in what's available to help people.

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'We will continue to try to find that funding from somewhere but in the meantime things will have to be scaled down, which is very sad.'

One client, who used the outreach service in Stalham when suffering from financial difficulties, said it was a 'real shame' the rural sessions would have to be cut.

The pensioner, who wished to remain anonymous, added: 'I think it could be real trouble because people get really desperate. I didn't know where to turn but I took all my troubles and put them on them and they sorted it.'

The main areas CANN supports people with is benefits and debt but it also offers guidance on issues including housing and education.

Mrs Hunter said those most affected by the cuts would be vulnerable people in need of expert help, those in isolated areas and – with the loss of the evening and weekend sessions – those in full-time work.

She stressed the core services at North Walsham and Fakenham would continue, but the cuts would have a knock-on effect on staff.

She said: 'You can almost see people walk away taller without the weight of worry. To not be able to do that (for people) is going to be very hard for the advisors.'

To find out more about CANN and how to support it through donations, visit www.cabnorthnorfolk.org.uk

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