A HOUSING, debt and welfare charity based in Ardrossan is set to extend its outreach work by opening more hubs in the Three Towns.

The CHAP (Community Housing Advocacy Project) initiative says the move will help people suffering money worries who can't even afford the bus fare to get practical face-to-face advice.

The new hubs will be located in Whitlees Community Centre, Ardeer Community Centre and Auchenharvie Leisure Centre.

They are following in the footsteps of hubs opened in the past 12 months in Kilwinning and Kilbirnie.

Debbie Alexander, CHAP's chief executive, said: “We are only too aware that economic and political instability have created a perfect storm for a lot of people.

"Sadly, funding restrictions are also often resulting in people having to wait longer to access help.

“Our solution was to open two community hubs, in Kilwinning Sports Club in 2022 and more recently, in the Bridgend Community Centre in Kilbirnie.

"These make accessing advice a whole lot easier – and at the same time, reduce any lingering stigma or reluctance to attend a dedicated advice centre for money and housing-related issues.  

“Our existing community hubs have been so well received that we are delighted to have secured funding to now open a further three, across the Three Towns area."

CHAP says that offering support and advice through existing establishments allows people to walk-in and see that help is available, that they are not alone in having issues with money or without support if they feel under threat of losing their home.

Dedicated and trained advisers are available through an appointment system to simply chat through any issues and to offer free and independent help and support.

This may take many forms - from helping people complete welfare paperwork online to ensure they are receiving all that the support to which they may be entitled, to providing emergency phone top-ups to let people stay in touch with families while they regain control over their lives.

Debbie added: “Money problems can start a damaging cycle of fear and worry, which impacts on physical and mental health. It can even result in joblessness or the breakup of families.

“We want to be right there to offer support when it is most needed – before things get out of hand. We are extremely grateful to both the Scottish Government’s Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, plus the Community Investment Fund from North Ayrshire Council for providing the financial backing to make this possible.”   

Colin Ferris, Three Towns locality officer for North Ayrshire Council, said: “The addition of CHAP outreach advisers working within the community is a really positive development for the Three Towns.

“The benefit of the advisers being located in various locations in the community is that they will be in a better position to offer support and directly advise people locally. This will reduce barriers for many people who urgently need to access support and advice. 

“This is crucial due to the ongoing cost of living crises and fuel process increasing and is a good example of the Community Investment Fund being used to address local needs." 

Louisa Carslaw, assistant health and wellbeing manager at KA Leisure, added: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with CHAP. 

"Their work supports our aim of improving the Health & Wellbeing of people living in North Ayrshire.”