Hundreds are turning to helpline as hard times hit

A TELEPHONE helpline for people in Blyth struggling with legal or financial problems is now dealing with 400 calls a week as the recent recession continues to cause hardship.

The Northumberland single telephone advice line, launched in 2010, is getting 100 calls every week and is turning to Blyth Citizens’ Advice Bureau for help with about a dozen of those.

The advice line is managed by Seaton Burn-based charity, and its chief executive, Liz Chadwick, pictured, said she expects the number of enquiries it gets to carry on rising as towns such as Blyth continue to feel the pinch.

She said: “Over the past 14 months, we have received a huge response to the advice line from people living in Blyth.

“We have already helped over 600 Blyth residents worried about legal matters to improve their situation, but as we continue into 2012, there has never been a greater need for people to be able to access quality legal and financial advice quickly.

“Our advisers and Blyth Citizens’ Advice Bureau are regularly contacted by individuals who have found themselves in difficult situations through no fault of their own, often as a result of a job loss or a relationship breakdown.

“Unfortunately, there just doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.”

Bureau manager Bernard Pidcock added: “Prior to the introduction of the single advice line, people would often feel frustrated by our phone service, simply because of how busy the bureau could become.

“The new advice line is now helping people to access support quickly and is also alleviating the growing pressures being felt by bureau teams by reducing our waiting lists, allowing us to focus on helping individuals who require face-to-face advice.

“For us it is like having two teams – one answering the phone and the other dealing with face-to-face problems from our offices in Blyth, Cramlington and Seaton Delaval.”

The advice line can be reached on 0844 411 1309.