New advice services in Kilburn

29 Dec

Kilburn library advice sessionsIn the summer, I blogged about the closure of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) on Kilburn High Road.

Kilburn and West Hampstead Liberal Democrats organised a petition and collected over 500 signatures in support of our call for a rethink. The petition urged Camden Citizens Advice and Camden Council to work together to ensure that an alternative premises is provided in the Kilburn/West Hampstead area.

I am still surprised and disappointed by Camden Citizens Advice’s decision to close down the Kilburn office, given the evident need for advice services among the population of NW6. The new Albany CAB in the Regents Park area is not readily accessible to Kilburn/West Hampstead residents (there are no direct bus or tube services). It adds insult to injury that the Camden CAB Service chose to present this as a ‘move’ in the location of the Kilburn branch, rather than a closure. Meanwhile, the Council doesn’t seem to have given much thought to the impact on Kilburn residents when it sharply reduced funding for advice services, and then provided support for a new branch in the old Regents Park library.

Anyway, West Hampstead Cllr Keith Moffitt, Kilburn Lib Dem Janet Grauberg and I met the Chief Executive of Camden CAB Service a few weeks ago to present our petition, and reinforce the concerns of local residents about the loss of our CAB.

We are pleased to report that a new weekly CAB drop-in session has recently been set up in Kilburn library, 12-22 Kilburn High Road on Friday mornings from 10am-12noon.  

This is good news, as it means that a drop-in service will be available to local residents at a visible location on the High Road. In addition, some CAB face-to-face advice services are being provided at Brondesbury Medical Centre, West Hampstead Women’s Centre and Kingsgate Community Centre. These services provide tailored information and advice services for specific community groups by appointment. Kilburn/West Hampstead Lib Dems have highlighted the need for clear information about the nature of these services and Camden Council has finally produced a summary:  Welfare benefits advice in Kilburn dec 2013 (3).

Meanwhile, a new local not-for-profit group is offering a new basic money management service at the weekends. The Kilburn Financial Health Centre is open on Saturdays (10am to 4pm) and Sundays (11am to 5pm) at 210 Kilburn High Road.

I still believe there is a need for a dedicated, visible face-to-face advice service in the north-west of the borough. Camden CAB should monitor the mix of services it now provides to Kilburn/West Hampstead residents, and the Council should ensure the advice services that it funds are properly meeting the needs of residents in this area. But at least Kilburn residents will have easier access to some advice services – thanks to everybody who signed the petition and made a noise about this.

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