Sat, 08 Sept 2018
CITIZENS Advice West Berkshire (CAWB) has embarked on a joint fundraising venture in a bid to save the life-changing service it offers to residents across the district.
The charity is on a mission to raise £40,000, £20,000 of which will be match-funded by The Good Exchange, so that it can continue helping those who need it.
Greenham Trust have generously given the scheme a head start with a grant of £20,000
CAWB has seen its core funding slashed by 63 per cent over the last three years and, as a result, launched the new initiative at its offices in Broadway House last Friday.
Prior to approving its budget for the 2018-19 financial year, West Berkshire Council originally proposed to reduce the charity’s core funding by two thirds, from £120,000 to just £40,000 a year.
At the time, the charity said it would be forced to close if the cuts went ahead. But following a public consultation, the council subsequently decided to reduce its funding by one third, to £80,000, instead.
CAWB, which downsized to smaller offices on its floor in Broadway House in December 2017, provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone, on their rights and responsibilities.
It values diversity, promotes equality, challenges discrimination and helps people with the problems they face in different walks of life, from housing and employment rights to family, relationship and health issues.
According to CAWB, the service saved the council more than £300,000 by preventing housing evictions and homelessness last year.
CAWB chief executive Sue Mackie said while the charity was grateful for the continued financial support West Berkshire Council has provided in recent years, difficult times lay ahead for the organisation.
“We have to raise money independently in order to continue our service to clients and survive,” she said.
“We do not receive funding from central government or Citizens Advice nationally.
“Through the campaign we hope to encourage individuals or organisations to donate to help save our life-changing advice.”
The Greenham Trust have generously started the campaign rolling with a grant of £20,000.
The local independent charity is governed by its own board of trustees – which Newbury MP Richard Benyon once sat on.
Pledging his support to the campaign when dropping by CAWB’s offices last week, the Conservative MP urged members of the public to donate in any way they can to help save the valuable service.
Mr Benyon said: “Life is very complicated – there are a range of issues that people find in modern day life which Citizens Advice help with.
“The money it spends saves the tax payer and it saves society. I really hope people will get behind this appeal, so that we can have a fully-functioning Citizens Advice Bureau, which is available for all in West Berkshire.
“I do not think there has ever been a time when Citizens Advice has not been more needed.”