THE Gazette is today asking its readers to back our campaign to spare Thornbury’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) from imminent closure.

The Save our CAB appeal is being launched to make sure help and financial guidance continues to be available to anyone in need and for free in and around Thornbury.

The branch, which is part of South Gloucestershire-wide CAB, has been in the town for more than 20 years and has supported thousands of families and residents in the community through illness, financial troubles and trying times in their lives.

Now the roles are reversed and its staff and volunteers are calling on locals to return the favour by fighting to keep the advice service up and running.

The bureau needs to secure £12,000 before the summer if it is to remain open and available to anyone who needs the support it offers, particularly during one of the worst recessions in living memory.

The Gazette has teamed up with South Gloucestershire CAB and Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb to help raise the sum and safeguard the crucial service.

The shop has never been awarded direct funding from the council or the government since its launch. It had never posed a major issue for the charity.

But the coalition’s decision to withdraw all legal aid funding nationwide means the CAB will see its budget slashed by £50,000, a sum it had previously tapped into to run the Thornbury branch.

With the help of its loyal readers, the Gazette hopes to raise £12,000 by the end of May to pay the wages of the charity’s two Thornbury-based supervisors, who train and mentor volunteer advisers at the branch and make sure customers leave with the right information. The sum would cover their salaries for the next year.

Christine Kenny, chief executive of South Gloucestershire CAB, said: "Almost everyone knows someone who's had money troubles, problems at work, been flummoxed by an official letter or bought something that's gone wrong.

"We need the support of our community to help us support the people in our community who can't do it alone."

In the last year 600 people have sought guidance from Thornbury CAB, which is located at the rear of the Town Hall.

Skip Walker, Gazette editor, said: "Well-informed, impartial advice is not available free from any other source and it is vital that this service is retained for the people of Thornbury and surrounding villages.

"Please support our campaign. You may not need the CAB yourself at the moment but there will be people out there who do, and if and when your time comes you will be eternally grateful that it is there for you."