Debt centre closure fear as cash cut

MIchael Appleby at Chapelgreen Advice Centre, Station Road,Chapeltown.
MIchael Appleby at Chapelgreen Advice Centre, Station Road,Chapeltown.
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VOLUNTEERS who help people battling debt at a Sheffield advice centre - which faces closure after losing its council funding - say they have been dealt a ‘smack in the face’.

The £24,000-a-year Chapel Green Advice Centre, which helps scores of people a week across Chapeltown and the surrounding area, receives funding from Sheffield Council which ends in June.

About ten volunteers there help people facing financial difficulties, bankruptcy or home repossession.

Sheffield Council says it is developing a new way of providing advice services based on what people most need - but Chapel Green had been ‘unsuccessful in meeting the high standards we are asking for’.

Michael Appleby, who has volunteered for over four years at the centre, said: “For a while we’ve been running on a shoestring.

“I volunteer because I like helping people but sometimes we’ve had to say we can’t ring a mobile number because we can’t afford the call. I’ve even been using my own phone.

“Unless we can get a sponsor or somebody to fund us we can’t keep the centre going.

“None of us are moaning that we’re not getting paid and it is going to affect a lot of cases.

“It is a bit of a smack in the face.”

The council said it is ‘reorganising’ how it funds the voluntary sector to create the best, most efficient services - not to save money - and advice services were not being withdrawn in any areas of the city.

Its aim was to make sure everyone has free access to the same standard of advice.

Coun Mick Rooney, cabinet member for communities, added: “We will ensure there will be advice provision that meets people’s needs in the Chapeltown and High Green areas when the advice centre’s grant ends.”