Letters: Karen Kjolsen, April 12, 2016

GV of the King's Lynn Citizens Advice Norfolk Branch in St Nicholas Street ANL-160327-122320009
GV of the King's Lynn Citizens Advice Norfolk Branch in St Nicholas Street ANL-160327-122320009
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I am shocked and disgusted at the news that Lynn CAB will close on June 1.

I worked as a specialist welfare benefits adviser there for two years and the range of problems dealt with by them is enormous – debt advice and advocacy, housing issues, relationship breakdowns, employment rights, legal advice, migration, assistance with benefits – the list goes on. They deal with vulnerable people, in a reassuring and professional manner: for many this is a lifeline. When the bureau closes, what will happen? Perhaps an outreach service, offering four appointments a week – explain that to the queue waiting outside the office doors now. A telephone service? Try calling HMRC or DWP, at the best it is a lengthy wait, and not always comprehensible. Online? Not everyone has access to the technology or the ability to understand and use it. The breadth of knowledge to be lost, both that of specialist paid staff and the extremely well trained volunteers is immeasurable. There is a common misconception that the CAB is Government funded, after all, the advice given when there are problems is ‘Seek advice at your local CAB’. However, this is not the case – funding has to be sought and in this instance, the borough council is apparently not in a position to continue with its contribution. I foresee great misery for people who need expert, face-to-face assistance. The divide between rich and poor is truly frightening and worsening daily. I would implore the council to think again – and if you have ever used the CAB’s service, make your voice heard. There is an online petition on Change.org; write to your local councillors and our MPs. If you have never used the CAB, you are very fortunate and should lend your strength to a service which is irreplaceable.

Karen Kjolsen, Seagate, Hunstanton