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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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'Appointments only' at Cumbrian charity as cutbacks bite

Cutbacks have led a charity that helps voluntary groups to limit its advice to appointment-only sessions.

From tomorrow, people will no longer be able to walk in to the Cumbria Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) building in Carlisle city centre for advice, but will instead have to phone and book a time.

Bosses say it will continue to provide support for a wide range of charities and voluntary sector organisations – but its Spencer Street office will no longer be open to the public.

Other offices in Penrith, Maryport and in the south of the county are also operating in this way.

The organisation says it has had to “meet the challenges of cutbacks and funding losses” from government and local authorities over a number of years.

Mark Costello, senior development officer, said: “This is the end of an era, but certainly not the end of provision to local groups and people.”

CVS offers help to organisations including voluntary and community groups, faith groups and sports groups.

This includes funding advice, help in writing a business plan, training and workforce development and help for organisations who manage volunteers.

The CVS association with the Spencer Street building dates back to 1944.

Back then the organisation, known as Carlisle Council of Social Services, was heavily involved in the task of post-war reconstruction and helped with health and housing, culture and tourism.

It set up the Citizens Advice Bureau and established Carlisle Housing Improvement Society, which was designed to provide good quality rented homes.

For inquiries call 01768 800350.

Have your say

Yup, Dave's so called big society is certainly under way!! Our city is losing not only charitable services but public counter services as well ranging from benefits advice, indebtedness, housing advice and court services.

Prior to March, it was possible for someone faced with a court proceedings to repossess their home or have their assets seized to go into the court building here in Carlisle and get advice over the court counter anytime between 10am and 4pm. It like CVS was a vital advice and 'signposting' service.

It has gone. Face to face counter service is now restricted to 'urgent' business, 'rutrgent being defined as something that needs to come before the court within 24 hours and even then the face to face counter service is limited to just 2 hours a day between 10am and 12.

As for anyone wanting to nip into the court counter to issue proceedings, forget about trying to issue your case out of Carlisle. Now proceedings need to be issued out of Northampton County Court, which is a bit of of a joke because they are actually issued out of a business centre in Salford, a centre that has no public phone number and has to be contacted via a call centre based at Loughborough County Court. You could not make it up!

I can understand the need for austerity and cuts but one can reach a limit where access to justice and the provision of basic civil rights are breached.

The vulnerable in our society need access to basic advice and help. If the voluntary centre is not given the funds to provide them, the governement needs to provide them itself.

Posted by Cynical and sad on 28 June 2012 at 09:17

My GP surgery doesn't have 'walk in' sessions, why on earth an advice service for volunteers needs one is beyond me.

Ps. A charity that gets most of its money from the taxpayer is not a charity.

Posted by Tb on 28 June 2012 at 09:04

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