Bestwood Advice Centre first came about in the early 1980s under the vision of Vicar Eddie Neale. Starting out with a pair of probation service workers running a weekly surgery from a makeshift office at the St Matthew's Church on the Bestwood estate.
Before long a volunteer Sheila was running drop in advice sessions for welfare rights. The weekly sessions soon became four days a week and she had taken on a volunteer assistant to help with the admin, fast forward a few months and the assistant had started acting as an advisor herself.
With its success came the formation of a management committee, resulting in much needed funding. The centre took on two paid advisors Michelle and Stephen. By this time space was getting fairly tight at St Matthew's due to the large number of different agencies also using the advice centre space and an application was put to the council to find more adequate space
On the 2nd January 1986 the Bestwood Advice Centre moved to 21 Gainsford Crescent, a location much better suited to the increased demand for welfare advice. The office was situated in a converted council house in the middle of the community it served and provided the additional space needed for the centre's work. Officially the centre was opened for business on January 14th by the Honourable Joan Taylor.
The advice centre became a registered charity in 1987 and in 2007 it was a founding member of Advice Nottingham, a partnership of the independent advice services across Nottingham, working together to provide the best advice provisions across the city.
Over the course of its lifetime the centre has helped thousands of people through offering independent and impartial advice for a wide variety of issues linked to benefits, welfare rights, debt and fuel related costs. These are the same principles as those on which we base our current work, still opening throughout the Covid-19 pandemic although now offering our initial consultations online or via the phone.
A lot has changed in the past 30 years, but we are still here!
Bestwood Advice Centre shortly after opening on Gainsford Crescent in 1986 (left)
and today (right)