A website with links to free advice about debt, benefits and housing officially came online across the Bradford district today.
The site, which also has a telephone advice line, has been developed by Bradford Community Advice Network – a partnership of local advice charities – and Incommunities.
It will also provide support in areas such as employment, health and education and aims to make it easy for residents to find face-to-face advice in their area, as well as giving links to the websites of national charities such as Citizens Advice and Shelter.
The telephone helpline will be answered by staff trained in advice skills via Bradford Council’s Employment Opportunities Fund.
Speaking at its launch at Bradford’s City Hall, Councillor Imran Hussain, deputy leader of Bradford Council, said: “This is an excellent initiative that will provide a lifeline to some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities in our district. “It will help to alleviate the pressure on the advice sector.”
One of the trainees awarded an adviser training certificate yesterday was Mehjabeen Shabir, 24,who graduated from Bradford University in 2013 with a degree in criminal justice but who had struggled to find work.
Following a placement at the Keyhouse charity in Keighley, she has now secured an outreach adviser role for Citizens Advice and will provide support to users of children’s centres across the district.
“Nothing matches the satisfaction of helping people,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to miss out or fall through the net because of lack of knowledge or limited resources.”
Users of the new website can choose the issue they want advice about and then enter their postcode to get a list of all the services available in their area. By clicking on a service, the site will provide details of opening times, contact details and a map.
Nick Hodgkinson, co-ordinator of the CAN project, which is funded via a £350,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, said: “There are 130 advice centres featured on the new website and we want to encourage people to find reliable, confidential, impartial and trustworthy information for themselves, and most importantly, for free.
“The website and helpline will provide help for people with the problems they face day in, day out.”
For more information, including the helpline, on 08442 451282, visit www.bradfordcan.org.uk.