Banbridge Citizens Advice Bureau has been awarded £5,000 towards the extension of its hours of telephone advice by Lloyds Bank Foundation for Northern Ireland.
The CAB is an independent and locally run charity that has been providing free, impartial and confidential advice and information services to the people of the town and district for 25 years, providing face to face advice in the Bureau itself in Bridge Street, and at outreach venues in Dromore, Rathfriland and Gilford.
Margaret Ellis, Manager of Banbridge CAB said: “We currently respond to approximately 1,200 telephone queries per year.
“We provide telephone advice through the number 4062 2201 and have recently found that the telephone is the preferred first point of call for many people.
“Telephone advice can be the most effective way of dealing with some straightforward or simple queries, or as the first point of contact where there are more difficult or complex problems. However, for help with filling in forms or more complicated queries, people may still need to come into the Bureau to deal with an adviser face to face.
“Hours for telephone advice are currently 9.30am to 2.00pm Monday to Friday and the grant will allow us to extend it until 3.30pm each day between Monday and Friday.
“When an adviser is already dealing with a call, a message may be left on the answering service and an adviser will return the call. However, since most people are now using mobile phones, this has become increasingly expensive for the Bureau and we have seen our telephone bills increase considerably over the last few years and it does put pressure on our limited resources.
“We are very grateful for their support and for their assistance in helping us to continue to provide as comprehensive a service as we can with limited resources.”
The presentation was made by Ms Joanne Byrne, Grants Officer of the LLoyds Bank Foundation for Northern Ireland.Ms Byrne said: “The Lloyds Bank Foundation for Northern Ireland is delighted to be able to support the work of CAB Banbridge.