A DORCHESTER organisation championing people’s rights is reaping the benefits of working in partnership.

The county town’s Citizens Advice Bureau teamed up with its Sherborne counterpart and the first year of the newly formed partnership saw 1,000 extra clients receive assistance.

The CAB’s annual general meeting was told a total of 5,690 individual clients were seen by the bureau in the 2012/13 financial year – representing a rise of 21 per cent in the first full year of the partnership.

With a number of clients requiring assistance with more than one problem, the bureau handled 17,068 issues over the year including employment, housing and benefits issues.

In his end of year report at the meeting manager Daniel Cadisch said the merger of the Dorchester and Sherborne CABs had been a resounding success.

He said: “It has resulted in an even better service to our clients just when they needed more help as a result of the difficulties in the economy.

“By combining resources, sharing staff in key areas as well as good practice, we have been able to divert much-needed resources to the front line where it really makes an impact.

“A further benefit from the merger is that we are a more robust organisation which can better withstand the ongoing pressure on every funding stream.”

The tough economic climate means more people are struggling with reduced incomes, while many also have concerns about changes to the welfare system.

However, Mr Cadisch said the changes introduced and the partnership working meant the CAB was in the best possible position to cope with the increasing demand for its services.

He added: “The last year has seen an increase in client inquiries such as cuts in working hours, redundancy, the impact of welfare reforms and rent arrears.

“Changes in welfare benefits have resulted in a sense of uncertainty.

“The bureau had seen an additional 1,000 clients compared to 2011/2012.”

The bureau has maintained projects including home visiting, its ongoing mental health project, and its Macmillan service to help people affected by cancer.

Mr Cadisch also praised those working at the CAB for all their hard work over the last year.

He said: “Behind all this work and dedication are the volunteers and staff of the bureau.

“I would like to thank each and every one of them for what they do and would like to tell them what an amazing difference they make.

“Replacing volunteers with paid staff would cost £520,000 per annum.”

For more information about the services available from the CAB visit its office in Acland Road, Dorchester or call 0844 245 1291.