Northern Ireland’s network of Citizens Advice offices are set to be rebranded, as the charity is forced to end its decades-old presence in the Province.
The charity, which is well known for providing free advice services, is set to disappear entirely from the Province by the end of the year.
It comes after the organisation’s regional headquarters in Belfast – which provided administrative support, IT services and training to the advice offices throughout NI – went into administration in June after the Department for Communities withdrew funding.
As a result, the 13 independently run bureaux across the Province were left without a regional organisation to oversee them.
The department has held discussions with Citizens Advice England and Wales, in the hopes that organisation could take on the membership role for the 28 remaining advice offices spread throughout Northern Ireland.
But Ed Ware, a spokesman for the GB-based charity, told the News Letter: “Because of potential financial liabilities coming out of the insolvency process of Citizens Advice NI, unfortunately we were not able to take on that role.”
The remaining offices have now been offered membership of a similar organisation, Advice NI, which will allow them to continue to provide the same functions under a new name.
Bob Stronge, chief executive of Advice NI, assured the public that they would “not notice any difference” in terms of the service provided.
“The bureaux have been invited to join Advice NI as a membership organisation. They will get the same services, if not better, from us than they had previously,” he told the News Letter.
“The only thing that will change is the name above the door; the branding essentially.
“There will be no loss of service and our expectation is that we can continue to give a first-class service to those who avail of it.”
Mr Stronge said some of the bureaux have already began the process of changing their branding to Advice NI.
“It should be all done by the start of the new year,” he added.
Billy Snoddy, a former chairman of the now-defunct Citizens Advice regional office in Belfast, expressed his regret that the brand would soon disappear from NI.
“It offered an excellent service and I am sure that will continue under the new brand,” he added.