Local advice service Dove House have launched a new facility in the Creggan area of the city offering help to people experiencing financial problems.
Dove House already provide financial advice on a range of issues, including benefits and welfare reform, from its base in the Bogside area and its satellite offices at Hillcrest House, Caw and Strabane, but now it will also provide advice from the Old Clinic building on Fanad Drive, Creggan.
Maureen Collins from Dove House said the new service will reach more people and provide advice in areas where it is needed. “We run a range of different advice services within Dove House Community Trust and that has been expanded over the last few years into the Caw/Nelson Drive area, Hillcrest House and Strabane.
“The idea behind this new facility in Creggan is about responding to a need for advice in communities. We have seen an increase in the demand for advice services and while we continue to provide specialist advice at Dove House, we want to ensure that service is expanded to as many people as possible,” she explained.
Mrs Collins explained that advice on specific topics will be provided on different days. “We will have a debt advice service in the new Creggan facility one morning a week on Wednesdays and we have a HMRC and benefits advice team who will be there on Thursdays. Added to that we also have Brendan McGonagle from Tar Abhaile who will be providing advice to ex-prisoners and their families as well,” she said.
Mrs Collins said the move into Creggan was in response to need in the area. “Dove House is now dealing with around 1,200 individual inquiries a month so there is a real demand for advice out there and we wanted to make it as accessible as possible,” she added.
Emma Tracey, an advice worker from HMRC, said the new site will allow more people to access the service. “I provide advice on issues on tax and benefits, including income tax arrears and self assessment issues. This is a brand new service for Derry but has been running in Belfast for two years and has been successful,” she said.
Michael Lyttle, a debt advisor in Strabane, will also be providing advice at the new office in Creggan. “I will be providing advice on benefits and debt management plans. At times people are apprehensive about coming forward to seek advice about debt problems but we always tell people not to bury your head in the sand and avail of the services that are there to help,” he said.