As the effects of the lockdown and the harsh winter weather take their toll, Citizens Advice Gateshead is reporting a surge in people facing hardship and increasing concern about problem debt . The usual strain on pockets in the early part of the year has been worsened by the increasing number of people facing unemployment and uncertainty.
Alison Dunn, who has led the charity through the challenges of the pandemic over the past year explained “We’re seeing unprecedented demand for our services, questions about Universal Credit are up 125%, employment enquiries have increased by 74%. Demand for energy advice is also rising exponentially as so many people are struggling with fuel costs and the increased need triggered by a particularly cold spell of weather.”
We're a local charity and our staff have now been providing their impartial advice service from home for almost a year. We are determined to meeti this challenge head on. With the support of Gateshead Council, through the Covid Champion programme funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government we have secured funding to recruit staff and volunteers in response to this surging demand and we're now campaigning to raise more money to keep this expansion going.
Barry Taylor, Chair of the charity’s Trustee Board adds “We refuse to stand still when the number of people facing hardship and poverty is increasing so quickly. Our drive for new staff, new volunteers and new ways of reaching out to help people is a statement of intent that as we seek a fair society for all, there should always be someone you can talk to for help and advice.”
You can also ring 0191 4785100 or go to citizensadvicegateshead.org.uk/contact-us to book a call back from one of Citizens Advice Gateshead’s team of advisers. If you live in Gateshead, you can also ring the local Adviceline on 0808 278 7902.