A CHARITY which has helped thousands of people keep their heads above water during one of the worst recessions in recent years could itself be forced to fold.

South Gloucestershire Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has revealed its Thornbury branch will close unless it can secure £12,000 to keep the service running before the end of the summer.

The charity depends on grants from local bodies, parishes and towns as well as South Gloucestershire Council, but it receives no direct funding from the local authority for its Thornbury shop.

Until now the district-wide advice service had managed to stretch its budget to provide assistance in the town.

But with central government withdrawing its legal aid funding to charities nationwide, creating a £50,000 hole in South Gloucestershire CAB's coffers, the organisation’s trustees board is now at a loss to keep its Thornbury office open.

Christine Kenny, chief executive of South Gloucestershire CAB, told the Gazette 400 people from Thornbury and the surrounding parishes sought guidance from the service each year.

The branch, based at the rear of the Town Hall, operates three hours a day every Tuesday and Thursday.

"South Gloucesterhire Council funds us to provide some of their services in priority areas but not in Thornbury," she said.

"We have been able to find the money to provide the service from our general funds but things are getting tighter."

The charity provides free guidance on everything from money management and benefits to immigration issues and employment.

Although CAB's advisors are volunteers, funding is still needed to pay the wages of two team supervisors.

"In spite of people’s perception of Thornbury as a wealthy area, there are quite a lot of people suffering from a disadvantage," Mrs Kenny added.

"It is needed by local people. If we can’t find some money to support the service then we will probably close it sometime before the end of June."

Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb this week launched a campaign to save the threatened Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

He said: "I value the service provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau across my constituency and would be very concerned if the Thornbury office had to close. I hope that the community of Thornbury will come together to find ways of preserving this important service."

The news came as a blow to the town council.

Cllr Clive Parkinson said: "The town council has always supported the CAB by providing free office space in the heart of the town and we would naturally be disappointed if this service had to cease. I hope that a solution can be found to sustain this important resource."

Find out how you can help save Thornbury's CAB in next week’s Gazette.