COUNTY residents struggling with legal or financial problems are being urged to pick up the phone and join those who have benefited from a support service.
Launched in autumn last year, the Northumberland Single Telephone Advice Line operated by DAWN Advice has so far dealt with nearly 3,500 inquiries from people with concerns about money or legal matters.
Calls received by advisers have included 956 regarding benefits advice, 549 involving debt, 431 relating to housing problems and 427 about employment matters amongst a number of other social welfare issues.
Liz Chadwick, Chief Executive of DAWN Advice, believes the number of inquiries will continue to rise quickly in 2012 as many Northumberland residents deal with public sector cuts and the forthcoming closure of the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter in Lynemouth.
“Our advisers are regularly contacted by individuals who have found themselves in difficult situations through no fault of their own – often it is as a result of a job loss or a relationship breakdown,” she added.
“Issues left unresolved will never disappear on their own and will often develop into much more complex problems, so seeking advice at the earliest possible stage will prevent matters from becoming worse.
“The advice line is not only helping people to access support quickly, it is also helping to alleviate the growing pressures being felt by our county’s Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABs) by reducing their waiting lists — allowing the CABs to focus on helping individuals who require in depth face-to-face advice or practical help.”
People living in rural areas or those reliant on public transport do not always have easy access to face-to-face services, so the advice line allows advisers to conduct an initial assessment of the client’s needs over the telephone and their local CAB can then arrange an appointment with a specialist caseworker.
Any Northumberland resident with legal or debt worries can contact the service on 08444 111309 for free, confidential and impartial advice.