Heeley Advice Centre Rises to Funding Challenge

Posted on October 19, 2010 by


Staff at Heeley Advice Centre have spent the summer battling to save local advice services in Heeley. The crisis emerged earlier this year when the Legal Services Commission announced its decision to reduce previous levels of funding in Heeley in favour of city centre services. Heeley Advice Centre faced a 50% cut in funding and possible closure.

However, far from responding with despair, Advice Centre workers have sought to broaden their funding base and restructure in order to maintain their core service. Neil Cutts, the Centre’s debt worker outlined some of the changes that have had to be made. One full-time equivalent in staff time has been lost, and two long-serving staff members will have gone by October – one through relocation and one through voluntary redundancy. Some substitute funding has been secured from local funders, and Heeley Development Trust have petitioned Sheffield City Council to bridge any shortfalls. The results of this petition, as well as that of a judicial review into the Legal Services Commission’s original decision, are awaited. Meanwhile, Heeley Advice Centre’s extra outreach services remain vulnerable.

Based in Heeley Community Centre on Gleadless Road, the advisers provide a vital local service, and one for which there is a growing demand as the economic downturn impacts on everyday lives. In the year ending March 2009, advice provided by workers kept significant amounts of money in our local economy as well as alleviating much hardship and heartache: 250 homes were saved from repossession; an extra £1,000,000 in benefits was claimed; and nearly £4,000,000 in bankruptcy and debt orders were written off.

Heeley Advice Centre want to encourage local people to continue to use the service. They also welcome support from the local community This has been crucial, and will continue to be so, as staff seek to re-establish a secure funding base. heeleyadvice@live.co.uk 0114 258 8751