Funding for independent advice sector ‘most welcome’ - Durkan

SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan has welcomed Executive funding committed to the independent advice sector over the next three years.
SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan.SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan.
SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan.

She has also highlighted the crucial role of independent advisors in bringing practical guidance to so many people facing the most challenging of circumstances during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Foyleside Councillor said: “In recent years workers in our advice sector have been under severe pressure with a full stretch on resources due to demand on advice, advocacy and representation services. People have struggled with the practicalities of corrosive welfare reform legislation. Our most vulnerable have been feeling the full impact of the Tory cuts.”

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“Aside from their advisory and advocacy services, independent advice organisations also deliver crucial training, equipping community workers and volunteers to carry out various roles. Like many others, I have availed of training from Advice NI and Housing Rights, enabling me to navigate a varied constituency case load.”

“As the Covid19 crisis deepens, the critical role of our advice sector becomes even more evident. In recent weeks, many people have found themselves accessing specialist advice for the first time in their lives, with many finding themselves out of work. Free, impartial expert advice has brought clarity and practical solutions to many in despair. Advice workers have been delivering their services under the most difficult of circumstances via email, phone consultations and live chats, responding to the quickly evolving pandemic and social distance requirements.”

“Last week’s announcement that the Department for Communities has allocated funding of £1.82 million for the independent advice sector over the next three years is most welcome. I understand that this funding will protect 50 front-line jobs and provide funding for Appeals and Representation Service. We are all in this together and we must ensure that the best quality of advice to those in need is available and accessible today and in the future.”