IT’S a lifeline for families struggling to make ends meet.
Now cabinet office minister Francis Maude has been given the chance to see the important work of Advice Portsmouth.
Mr Maude, who is also an MP for Horsham, West Sussex, toured the premises in Kingston Crescent, Portsmouth, yesterday to find out more about the people it serves.
The centre provides support for residents facing debt and having trouble with benefits, housing and employment.
Mr Maude told The News: ‘People who have been out of work for a long time may not find it easy to just walk into a job. They need a lot of support to get them into a position where they can successfully get a job.
‘One of things that I am hearing, which advice centres like this one are doing, is that they are getting to the underlying problem.
‘In so many cases we have people in need who come from a family who may have never worked, and it’s incredibly challenging for people to break out of that, and they need a lot of support.’
The centre saw more than 11,000 clients during its first year of business last year, and that number is expected to grow. Jane Henderson, manager of Advice Portsmouth, which is run by You Trust, said: ‘We have visitors from all sorts of agencies and we are always proud to show off what we do.
‘To have a politician in his position to see what we do is amazing.’
Beforehand, Mr Maude toured Portsmouth Naval Base and went onboard HMS Victory. Mr Maude said BAE Systems would continue to have a ‘presence’ in Portsmouth, despite the defence giant announcing job losses in Portsmouth and its desire to spend £200m revamping its Scotland yard.
‘There is strong support for the Portsmouth shipyard,’ he said.
‘BAE will continue to have an important presence here in Portsmouth, and the government and the Royal Navy is working very closely with BAE to ensure the best future for Portsmouth.’