A free advice service is seeing upwards of 60 people a day in Portsmouth following its launch.
Advice Portsmouth commenced at Focus Point, 116 Kingston Crescent, North End, following a refurbishment by regional fit-out specialist ODT Business Interiors.
Run by local charity YOU, the drop-in facility provides independent and confidential advice on a range of issues, from housing, welfare benefits to debt, employment and family legal advice.
Jane Henderson, solicitor and Advice Portsmouth manager, said: “We’re seeing up to 60 people a day, with debt and welfare benefit problems which are very much burning issues because of the difficult economic climate.”
Advice Portsmouth, supported by Portsmouth City Council, set up shop at Focus Point after ODT Business Interiors, based at Solent Business Park at Whiteley, transformed the 129.4 sq m (1,393 sq ft) premises.
The firm has also carried out other contracts for YOU, including Winchester, Dorchester and, two years ago, the charity’s head office at Admiral House, 43 High Street, Fareham.
Nearly 20 staff and volunteers from YOU are based on the ground floor of Focus Point, which is open from 9am to 5pm on Monday to Wednesday, 1pm to 7.30pm on Thursday and 9am to 4.30pm on Friday.
Before the launch of Advice Portsmouth last month (April), the ground floor was remodeled by ODT Business Interiors to make the space user-friendly and welcoming.
YOU is also a major local provider of care and support services, with some 500 employees working from 50 sites throughout Portsmouth, Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight and touching the lives of 10,000 people a year.
Jonathan Crutchfield, Director – Corporate and Property Services, said: “ODT Business Interiors once again came up trumps for YOU, transforming the ground floor of our offices at Focus Point to deliver something different and very special.
“Advice Portsmouth is a fresh, new free advice service, delivered in a brand new way. It’s more than a well thought out space though – it’s a place designed to work for the people who’ll use it.
“Since our doors opened on April 2, we’ve changed the way we’ve delivered advice for nearly 25 years.
“We’ve done away with lengthy waiting times, multiple forms to fill and other unnecessary delays. It’s what our customers said they wanted and ODT Business Interiors designed and gave us what we needed.
“We wanted more interview rooms than ever, space for callers to access the internet and a relaxed new feel.
“We got it, and for anyone who prefers not to drop in to see us, our team provides skilled telephone help.
“This is a partnership of many, and one that works. Portsmouth City Council funds us to deliver Advice Portsmouth for at least three years, maybe even five.
“We invested our money in this building because YOU know, without it, Advice Portsmouth would not have happened and ODT Business Interiors gave us value for money. This is a great outcome for Portsmouth.”
Andrew Saunders, the managing director of ODT Business Interiors, said: “There is clearly a strong need for Advice Portsmouth and we’re pleased to have played an enabling role in making the premises a place where people feel welcome and supported in what are difficult times for many families.”
Advice Portsmouth can be contacted on 023 9279 4340 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.adviceportsmouth.org.uk