Ilfracombe Centre's first anniversary

This month sees the first anniversary of the opening of The Ilfracombe Centre. More than 22,000 people have visited it in its first year - the equivalent of serving the total population of Ilfracombe twice over! Ten separate agencies are housed in the thr

This month sees the first anniversary of the opening of The Ilfracombe Centre. More than 22,000 people have visited it in its first year - the equivalent of serving the total population of Ilfracombe twice over!Ten separate agencies are housed in the three-storey building, making it the first port of call for residents in need of advice and training. Organisations such as North Devon Council, North Devon Pathfinder and Ilfracombe Town Council are available full-time in the Centre providing benefits, housing, planning and environmental advice as well as computer-based training and preparation for work skills.The Citizens Advice Bureau is a highly-used resource, with advisors specifically trained in a variety of issues such as debt, housing and legal aid. Jobcentre Plus, Maximus Training, EDP Drug & Alcohol Service all run an appointments system and Devon & Cornwall Police are available for a weekly confidential drop-in. Newer additions to the team are North Devon Plus, Westcountry Energy Action and the housing charity Shelter. Councillor Colin Wright has been leading the project on behalf of North Devon Council. He said: "This first year has really flown and has been a real success. It's been wonderful to see the people of Ilfracombe embrace their new facility and it's been rewarding for us to see such a high level of service being delivered."Those wishing to make an appointment to meet their town and district councillors and local MP can do so at the Centre. According to Centre Manager, Andrea Beacham, it is the range of organisations available in the Centre that has contributed to its success. She said: "People are rarely aware of all the support agencies out there that can assist them in times of need. The advantage of the Ilfracombe Centre is that people can just come in with a problem and our reception staff know how tohelp them."Councillor Paul Crabb, having seen the project through from paper to reality, said that the town council was keen to use the positive momentum to even greater effect. He said: "It was well-recognised that Ilfracombe needed such a facility and the take-up from residents has proved this to be the case. We'd now like to continue that success by helping to support new businesses which may be struggling to survive. We'll be revealing our plans shortly.


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