Advice centre celebrates anniversary

FROM consumer issues to community care, health to housing and just about everything in between, there are few issues Ipswich's Citizen's Advice Bureau has not dealt with over the years.

FROM consumer issues to community care, health to housing and just about everything in between, there are few issues Ipswich's Citizen's Advice Bureau has not dealt with over the years.

Helping the people of Ipswich since 1974, the centre in Tower Street is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month.

Manager Ian Burnett said: "We have seen a lot of changes over the years and the work has certainly become more intensive."

The bureau opened its doors in July 1974. Its first enquiry was from a man who had been sacked from his job and wanted to know if it was fair.


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His enquiry was one of 730 employment enquiries dealt with by the centre in its first year of operation.

Last year the centre dealt with 4673 enquiries relating to employment matters.

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Overall the centre is dealing with more than three times as many enquiries each year as it was 30 years ago.

In 1974 the total number of enquiries was around 11,000. By 2003 this had risen to more than 34,000 - the equivalent of more than 19,656 hours of advice.

Mr Burnett said: "I think the biggest change has been the increase in the number of people coming to us for financial problems.

"People end up in very complicated situations with loans and financial agreements, and the complaints that our advisors are dealing with have become a lot more complex."

The Citizens Advice Bureau is an independent, non-profit making organisation that aims to offer a free, confidential and comprehensive information, advice and advocacy service.

It is primarily staffed by volunteers - in the Ipswich centre there are around 100 staff, only twelve of these are paid.

The centre deals with enquiries on a wide variety of issues including education, legal issues, immigration, relationship problems and taxation matters.

The centre is open from 9.30am to 4pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9.30am to 12pm on Wednesdays, and 10am to 12pm on Saturdays.

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