Citizens Advice in North & West Kent (also known as CANWK) has moved into the Ground Floor Foyer at Dartford Borough Council’s Civic Centre.
Councillor Jeremy Kite, MBE, Leader of Dartford Borough Council, officially opened the newly renovated Citizens Advice in North & West Kent (CANWK) space on 31st January 2024.
Citizens Advice in North & West Kent has seen demand for advice triple in the past 12 months. Last year, the charity supported more than 3,000 Dartford residents on a range of issues, with the top three issues being: benefits (32%), debt (17%) and housing (14%). Their work has helped Dartford residents' access over £1 million in additional income – a huge help during a cost-of-living crisis.
Dartford Borough Council and CANWK are keen to work closely together to further support Dartford residents as many experience financial pressures due to the cost-of-living crisis.
The new premises will allow the charity to maximise visibility and accessibility of their services to Dartford residents, particularly vulnerable residents. It will also enable them to address clients’ issues quickly when present at the Council.
CANWK’s Meet & Greet team, including volunteers who are Dartford residents, will support clients (particularly those who are vulnerable) to access CANWK’s services. In addition, they can accept and make copies of documentation in preparation for advice appointments.
Meet & Greet Assistants are not Advisers but play a crucial role in supporting residents to access advice most appropriately. This service will operate Monday to Thursday from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Fridays from 9:00am to 4:30pm from within their new premises.
The Citizens Advice video call kiosk, within their new premises, is a new initiative allowing residents to drop in and access advice by making a video call. Over video call, people can see and speak with an Adviser in real time to discuss their matter confidentially. This allows local people, who may not be digitally confident, to access alternative face-to-face advice.
Citizens Advice in North & West Kent (CANWK) is the local Citizens Advice in the Dartford borough. It is an independent charity and affiliated with the Citizens Advice network across England and Wales.
CANWK provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice on a range of everyday issues to people across North & West Kent. Specialist advice areas include debt, housing, employment and immigration advice.
People can also access advice by calling CANWK’s freephone Adviceline number on 0808 278 7810 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) or visit their website to get online self-help advice.
Cllr Jeremy Kite, MBE, Leader of Dartford Borough Council, said, “I’m delighted to welcome Citizens Advice to the Civic Centre, they offer an incredibly valuable service to residents at a time when there’s a huge amount of demand for the help they can offer. I hope that their new office space ensures that any Dartford resident can access the support they need.”
Louise Bryant, Chair of Citizens Advice in North & West Kent (CANWK), added, “At Citizens Advice in North & West Kent, our goal has always been to help everyone find a way forward – whoever they are, whatever problems they face. It is wonderful to have the support of Dartford Borough Council as we move into our new office. It will help us to be more visible to residents so that they can access help should they need to. We will work with the council to help Dartford residents find a way forward."
Angela Newey, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice in North & West Kent (CANWK), responded, “We’re very pleased to have a more accessible office in the Dartford Civic Centre, allowing us to reach and support many more residents than before. We know that many people are experiencing immense financial pressures due to the cost-of-living crisis, including those who are doing so for the very first time. Over the course of the year, we’ve seen a significant increase in Dartford residents coming to us. However, we know that many more people need our help. With Dartford Borough Council’s support, we will work together to ensure that more residents are aware of our services and are supported to access them should they need to.”
For further information about office opening times, how to access CANWK’s advice and learn what advice and support services they provide, visit their website.