At Ely Foodbank we value an extensive range of partnerships with frontline agencies. Right from the beginning we have had an excellent relationship with both Citizens Advice Rurla Cambs (CARC) and East Cambs District Council (ECDC), which continues to this day.
Through our years of operating we clearly recognise the wide-ranging and invaluable independent advice that Citizens Advice representatives can give. We have also observed the difficulty the public can have in accessing this service (or indeed the services of other agencies) in areas outside the city of Ely. To try and improve the access situation outside Ely we have been actively working with CARC to secure funding so that a Citizens Advice worker can help clients on-location at some of our remote distribution centres. Happily we secured a two-year funding source that enables us to develop with CARC a two year project to that end. We are very pleased at this development and hope to publish more details in the near future.
Sadly, however, at the same time ECDC has decided to reduce its working with CARC by removing the annual grant they make. This significant amount of recurring funding lost will likely force CARC to review its operations, especially in (and around) Ely. We understand ECDC has its own logic for this decision, and indeed we see the benefits of the approach that ECDC has taken regarding housing support in recent years and are grateful for how this has developed. Yet at Ely Foodbank we are disappointed with the ECDC decision to immediately stop funding to CARC, because we very much perceive a need for the continued wide ranging advice and services that CARC can offer.
It is our belief that the full extent and benefits of the CARC services is simply not replaceable or fully achievable within the council’s own operations. In addition the very nature of CARC is that it offers independent advice, which by definition can never be matched by the local council.
We understand that there might be conversations within the council to review this funding-cut decision – we would certainly urge reconsideration. We also note that a member of public has initiated an online petition to allow ordinary members of public to express support. We would similarly ask members of the public and supporters of Ely Foodbank to worry regarding the potential impact on clients, and therefore to consider giving their own support to the petition: https://www.change.org/p/east-cambridgeshire-district-council-reinstate-the-grant-to-ely-citizens-advice-bureau
Karl Relton – Chair of Trustees