Ballymena’s Citizens Advice Bureau has dealt with debts in excess of £4 million for local clients in the past year.
This was just part of the workload undertaken by the Bureau in the period from April last year which is revealed in the organisation’s annual report.
Citizens Advice Ballymena, now under District Manager, Michele Campbell, moved premises from their long term occupancy in Mount Street in January 2014 and is now located at to 4 Wellington Court in the town centre location.
“This gives us accessible disabled parking in both Church Street and Wellington Street and the added advantage of parking in Church Street 1 & 2 car parks close by,” says Michele. “The move was facilitated by Ballymena Council, who have supported us as core funders.
“They also kindly donated the existing telephone system which enabled the bureau to increase the telephone lines from two to four lines and also introduce a new dedicated advice line number and we would like to thank the Council for their continued support.”
The annual report gives a very positive account of the first year under new management demonstrating that from April 2013-March 2014 the bureau identified over £1million in unclaimed benefits for the citizens of Ballymena Borough.
More than 5,000 enquiries were dealt with which resulted in more than 7,000 issues being advised on.
Michele adds: “The bureau has dealt with debts totalling over £4million for clients ranging from debt management plans, Debt Relief Orders (DRO’s), Independent Voluntary Arrangements ( IVA’s), bankruptcy and house repossessions.
“The bureau now employs 6 full-time staff and we have the services of 12 volunteers trained in roles ranging from generalist and disability advisors to social media and social policy advisors. The bureau is always interested in taking applications for volunteers who feel they can give around 12 hours per week. All training and expenses are paid for by CAB.”
Ballymena Citizens Advice Bureau is governed by a local management committee with Terry Flanagan as the newly appointed Chairperson supported by John Ramsey as Vice Chairperson. The committee meet once per month and oversee the governance of the bureau. They are seeking applications for new committee members, in particular with expertise in the areas of HR, Legal or IT.
Telephone Advice:To speak to an advisor contact the dedicated telephone advice line 0300 123 3233 (at standard costs from a BT landline) which operates Mon-Friday 9.00 -4.00pm. Should the advisor feel that an appointment is necessary an appointment for a face to face session will be made.
The bureau is open 9.15am-4.45pm Monday – Friday during which times a triage receptionist is available to take the details of your enquiry. The enquiry is then triaged and a call back will be made in order of urgency. We aim to respond to non urgent enquiries within one week.