A COMMUNITY hub has been given a new lease of life as it offers help to those facing tough times.
The former day care centre in Shakespeare Street, Seaham, has been transformed into the town’s new Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) base after the organisation struggled to find a permanent building over the last few years.
Now it is welcoming those in need of its support to the revamped centre, with advice sessions being held three days a week on issues including debt advice, benefits, legal difficulties, consumer affairs and housing.
The organisation was keen to find a new permanent location after it was forced to leave Rock House when it closed down because of health and safety concerns, then lost access to a space it used in the now-defunct Caroline House.
That left those who needed its help the most struggling with travel costs or having to walk to reach its main office in Peterlee’s Castle Dene shopping centre.
Neil Bradbury, the East Durham branch’s chief officer, said: “What motivated me to get this project off the ground was a single mum with three kids was walking with her children from the outskirts of Seaham to get to our office in Peterlee to get help.
“It’s been difficult because there’s not really any money at the moment, but we got the lease from the council for 10 years and it’s all come together.
“We had some small grant assistance from local councillors and some from the NHS and lots of bits of funding.
“So far, people have mainly been helped with benefits issues and, as I’m sure people are aware, there are a lot of changes which are coming into effect, and that’s causing some worries and upset.”
The centre has been given an overhaul, with new windows, doors and carpets installed. Electrics have been rewired and it has a new heating system.
Two interview rooms have been set up, three training rooms are available for use and it has plenty of toilets thanks to its previous use as a community centre for residents.
Haswell and District Mencap will be setting up a cafe in the complex, which is being leased out by Durham County Council.
The centre is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 1pm.
For more information, log on to www.eastdurhamcab.org.uk or follow it on Twitter via @EastDCAB. For appointments call 586 2639 or for session details, 597 2695.