A one-stop shop advice centre which brings housing, law and general support to vulnerable people in West Norfolk will be launched tomorrow.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau will be under one roof with King’s Lynn Asylum and Refugee Support (KLARS), which works with migrants.
Emma Humphrey, a KLARS project manager, said: “The idea of the hub is to streamline services and how we work together to make things more efficient.
“It’s a one-stop-shop where people can come in with any problem and get it sorted out.
“The advantage of us being under one roof is that our project workers can interpret for any of the other workers here.
“Our vision is a hate-free country where newcomers are welcomed and their contribution is valued.
“We exist to help newcomers settle into their community and we do that through offering advice, information and sign-posting services, offering practical support to overcome language barriers and working in partnership with other organisations to further community cohesion.
“A lot of our work is around trying to help people to help themselves. So, people come to us asking for help to understand a utility bill and a lot of companies have interpreting services so we show them which phone number to ring.
“I think it must be difficult for anybody going to any new area whether within their own country or outside of it and we provide help with things some of us take for granted like knowing how to register with a GP. We help people understand their rights, responsibilities, laws in the UK and all those things that might be different.”
The new hub is currently a two-year project funded through the Big Lottery Advice Services Transition Fund, which awarded it £340,000 last year. The Tudor Trust also supports the work of KLARS and committed £75,000 over three years to it in 2011.
The hub has been created in a Broadland Housing building at 41 Old Hospital Mews, Hospital Walk, with access via Seven Sisters Close.
Thelma Wadsley, advice hub project manager, said: “We are delighted with the progress of this two year project so far and the interest of other agencies in joining us and making use of the hub and the training on offer.
“We are already starting to use a common referral system between agencies to streamline administration. Also shared training has enabled a much better understanding for staff and volunteers of what support each agency offers. This will help to ensure that clients will not be referred to other organisations inappropriately. ”
Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS), a charity which provides free, confidential and independent legal advice, has been working with KLARS to provide immigration advice for some time and will have representation at the hub.
Ros Brown, NCLS chief executive, said: “It will help us to promote our services more widely and encourage better partnership working.”