A VITAL advice service that helps thousands of residents in Hartlepool each year is looking forward to a challenging 2013 after a tough year of cuts.
Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau looked back on a “very difficult year” after it was threatened with closure.
The advice centre in Park Road was facing an uncertain future after a bid for £206,000 of funding from Hartlepool Borough Council was unsuccessful for the first time in its 73-year history.
The bureau has been forced to slash its paid workforce from 22 to 11 staff because of financial cutbacks in the last two years.
But manager Joe Michna says their services are still in high demand particularly as people seek advice and help with debts, benefits, work law and accommodation.
He thanked people for their support over the last year said they are hoping for a better year ahead.
Mr Michna said: “2011 was a difficult year for the bureau but 2012 has just been downright tough.
“We have had to make some very difficult decisions regarding staff redundancies and the services that we could still provide for local residents but we have survived and we have been hugely encouraged and lifted by the support and good wishes of Hartlepool residents.
“I would wish to express the sincere thanks and appreciation of all staff, paid and voluntary as well as the Trustee Board for the support that we have received from local residents.”
Mr Michna said they deal with an average of 100 new clients a week and he has been working seven days a week for the last 18 months to keep the service running as smoothly as possible.
“At times the stress and tension does occasionally get to me.
“Yes, it has been a bloody tough year but we are still here and still providing a much needed and valued service.”
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