Citizens Advice Esher & District is celebrating having been awarded £10,000 by the National Lottery Community Fund to help develop their debt advisory programme.

Debt counselling is one of the biggest issues that Citizens Advice Esher & District volunteers handle. Last year they dealt with 826 cases – that is three people per day – and managed to get £158,000 of debt written off and nearly £600,000 of direct income put back into clients’ pockets.

Debt can happen to anyone and its consequences can be devastating, from spiralling financial worries, to health issues and strain on relationships.

As part of a co-ordinated response to the local debt crisis, Citizens Advice Esher & District has developed a programme called “With a little help from my friends’, which is a toolkit designed to empower people to get on top of their own debt problems and help them to avoid recurring issues in the future, as well as passing on their skills to friends and family who may find themselves caught in the same trap.

The £10,000 lottery funding will be used to develop the Toolkit further and to train Citizens Advice Esher & District volunteers in its use so they can provide face-to-face advice to users and will also help to cover some of the administrative and IT costs.

Linda Wheatley, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Esher & District, said: “The support and advice we provide on debt counselling is invaluable to the local community, from individual help for people in crisis to preventative measures such as talking to local school leavers and sixth formers about good financial planning. The Toolkit will be another weapon in our armoury, helping to ensure that we equip people with the knowledge to sort their problems and better manage their finances in the future.

We are hugely grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund for this support. As a charity we are reliant on local authority funding for about 57% of our funding, but we have to find the rest ourselves. Without help from organisations like the National Lottery Community Fund we would not be able to continue to provide our essential service in Elmbridge.”

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