A BARNSTAPLE-based charity has announced details of a new project to help vulnerable people in towns and villages across North Devon. The Barnstaple Poverty Action Group (BPAG) outreach project is now providing open access drop-ins, as well as an appointm

A BARNSTAPLE-based charity has announced details of a new project to help vulnerable people in towns and villages across North Devon.The Barnstaple Poverty Action Group (BPAG) outreach project is now providing open access drop-ins, as well as an appointment and referral-based service aimed at alleviating financial crisis and homelessness.Funding from the Tudor Trust and the John Paul Getty Jnr Trust has enabled BPAG to employ two full-time workers to offer advice, guidance, referrals and on-going casework to help prevent those in a crisis from being forced into a life on the streets.BPAG has spent almost 13 years working on the front line with homeless or rough sleepers or those experiencing poverty, hardship and crisis. The charity has been expanding the scope, volume and geographical reach of its services during the last two years.Manager Phil Davey said that while there were many advantages to living in rural North Devon, historic under-investment was now being compounded by the more recent problems linked to high levels of personal debt, the credit crunch, the worsening recession and the impact of a couple of poor years for the tourism trade."Poverty and deprivation issues often look very different in rural communities than in more urban areas but the problems facing rural communities in Devon, although often unseen and unacknowledged, are nonetheless very real and distinct," he said.As well as offering emergency provisions such as food, accommodation and clothes, the new service will offer advice on debt reduction management, welfare benefit eligibility, housing, fuel poverty androutes into training, education, volunteering and social enterprise opportunities.