PEOPLE struggling with debt, housing problems or complicated forms in the Boscombe area will be able to get free help from a new service which has just won Lottery funding.

The Boscombe Independent Advice Centre (BIAC) has been awarded £295,474 by the Big Lottery Fund, which will be used to set up the charity so it can start operating in the Spring.

Founder Martin Broad, who is also manager of the Bourne Spring Centre where the BIAC will be based, said it was intended to complement the work of the Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter, and other similar organisations.

“I have been working on this for two years, it is my passion, so it is great that it is finally getting started,” said Mr Broad, who worked for Citizens Advice for 14 years, and was its chief executive in Bournemouth.

“I am very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund and to the trustees and everyone else who has helped us get this far.

“These are difficult times and Bournemouth, like everywhere else in the country, has a need for services which provide advice on housing issues, benefits, employment, finances and more.

“Citizens Advice have a very well established system for helping people and I know it works, so I will be doing much the same, but it will take a bit of pressure off them in the Boscombe area.”

Although based at the centre in Springbourne the BIAC advisors will be able to visit people at home, and will set up contact points in other facilities in the Boscombe, Springbourne and Pokesdown area.

Mr Broad says they will work closely with the council and other services, ensuring people are referred to whoever is best placed to help them, and that the charity will benefit from close contact with other charities based at the centre, including Vita Nova and The Butterfly Foundation.

“If all goes well I am hoping that we will be up and running by late March or early April, although we won’t be up to full speed then,” he said.

“There is still a lot of work to be done but we are getting there.”