The manager of Mid Ulster’s Citizens Advice Bureau has added his voice to those concerned about the proposed closure of Cookstown’s two ‘dole offices’.
Stephen Catherwood said he is worried about how the move would affect “the poorest and most vulnerable”.
He has offered assistance to all residents in the Cookstown area to respond to the public consultation on the proposed closure of the Social Security Office and JobCentre.
Opened for public consultation on September 20, locals have until Tuesday, November 15 to respond to the Department for Communities proposal.
“We are very concerned for the poorest and most vulnerable people who live in Cookstown and surrounding towns and villages,” said Mr Catherwood. “As we all know, rural areas of Mid Ulster have limited transport networks, internet and mobile phone coverage. At a cost of £6.30 return bus fare to Magherafelt and £6.80 to Dungannon, people in financial difficulties simply won’t be able to afford to travel to get the help they need.”
“We have already heard from clients with both physical and mental health issues how reliant they are on the face-to-face support they receive from the staff at the Cookstown Social Security office. A 20 mile round trip journey on public transport, which is likely to take at least 3 hours in total, is impossible.”
Contact Citizens Advice Mid Ulster on 028 8676 6126.