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Liz Kendall MP launches new Leicester advice centre

Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West, today (Friday 16 May) launched a new community based advice service to help people who are struggling to pay their energy bills.

Community Money Solutions, based in Leicester’s New Parks estate and run by The Zinthiya Trust, provides support to women from disadvantaged backgrounds. The charity has recently been awarded a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust to offer advice on money management and to reduce and prevent fuel debt.

The new service will be based in the same building in Bateman Road where Christine Cronogue MBE, who helped New Parks residents for more than 30 years, used to run a help centre for tenants until she died in March. At the launch event, a plaque will be unveiled to celebrate her contribution to improve living conditions for residents of the estate.

Two full-time advisers will be employed at the centre to provide specialist debt advice face to face, online, on the telephone and at home. The advisers will help with applications to the British Gas Energy Trust, which gives grants to individuals and families who have fallen into arrears with energy and other household bills.

Liz Kendall, MP, said: “Too many of my constituents are at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis, where they are really struggling to make ends meet. I’m backing Community Money Solutions because it will offer them a lifeline as they try to cope with the devastating impact of fuel poverty. This is a huge issue in our city, and a top priority for me as the local MP.

"This initiative also builds on the fantastic community work done by the late Chris Cronogue, and I’m honoured to unveil a plaque to commemorate the huge contribution she made.”

Zinthiya Ganeshpanachan, of The Zinthiya Trust, said: “We’re delighted to be able to bring an advice centre back to New Parks. People do worry about their energy bills, and many families need help. By opening our doors today, we hope to help many more families in the area manage their finances and energy bills. The advice service is open to anyone who’s worried about their finances – not only British Gas customers.”

Christine Tate, Head of Corporate Responsibility at British Gas, said: “We know that many families and businesses in Leicester are struggling to pay their energy bills. Last year British Gas helped more than 4,000 people in the city with their bills, through discounts, extended re-payment plans and grants through the Trust.

“There are many reasons people fall into debt and it is important to offer support before the situation gets out of hand. British Gas helped more than a million customers across the UK last year and we’ve given £63 million to the British Gas Energy Trust to date. We’ve made a further commitment of £9 million this year.”

Christine’s Cronogue’s daughter, Ann-Marie, said: “Our mother worked tirelessly in this community to improve conditions for local people. She always put others before herself and was motivated by a desire to help people. Having lived in poverty and survived tough times herself, she would have been proud to see the launch of this service which will help many others who are struggling.”

Community Money Solutions can be contacted on 0116 287 2141.

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