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Citizens Advice Bureau in Lymington celebrates group's 80 years of helping people

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The CAB advice office
The CAB advice office

LYMINGTON’S Citizens Advice branch is appealing for people to get in touch with stories about how they have been helped by the service as part of this year’s 80th anniversary celebrations.

Originally launched by the government in September 1939 to help people during the war, it is now an independent charity with over 200 offices spread across the UK.

Lymington’s branch, now known as Citizens Advice New Forest, was founded in 1942. It is now relied on heavily by the local community, with 8,000 people approaching it for help last year alone.

A story from the A&T dated 28th November 1942 detailed how the branch at the headquarters of the Women’s Voluntary Services in Southend House, Church Street, was launched during wartime Britain under the banner, ‘Where You Can Find Answers To Your Problems’.

It was set up after the then mayor of Lymington, Alderman E Bright, became fed up of people besieging the town hall seeking help with their queries.

He complained that at times there were “at least 20 people in the town hall seeking help”, and having seen a branch of the CAB in action in Romsey, he believed one should be set up in the town.

It was duly opened and a story from the A&T archives shows many of the problems people faced then were to do with living through the Blitz and the Second World War.

Queues outside the mobile CAB service
Queues outside the mobile CAB service

The aim of the CAB, according to the report, was “to put people on the right road”.

It continued: “The first thing was to find out what the difficulty was and then put the inquirer in touch with someone who could straighten out the problem.”

Among the issues people sought help with was food rationing, tracing missing relatives in bombed towns and cities and how to send a Red Cross letter to prisoners of war.

Volunteers at the CAB office turned to a book which had answers to virtually every question you could think of to help their clients.

The CAB is still very much alive and well in Lymington, dealing with modern day problems like housing shortages, Universal Credit, or fears over job security after Brexit.

As part of the 80th anniversary celebrations, the local branch is appealing for local people to get in touch with stories of how the organisation helped them in their hour of need.

Inside the CAB mobile office
Inside the CAB mobile office

Alison Talbot, chief officer of Citizens Advice New Forest, said: “Life can be tough for everyone at times, and the need for free, confidential, independent advice in the year ahead will be more important than ever. 2019 is set to be a year of uncertainty, complexity and change.

“Managing money, family and health worries and understanding consumer and legal rights are just some of the issues that many people will face on a daily basis over the next 12 months.

£And it’s likely that these will be made even more complicated by the challenging political and economic times we’re experiencing.”

The Lymington branch of the CAB can be found at 28 New Street, and is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.

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