1939 - How it all began

4th September 1939

The day after World War II begins the Citizens Advice Bureaux service is set up across the UK by the National Council for Social Services to help people to deal with the difficulties and anxieties that the war is expected to cause, giving advice about new regulations. Citizens Advice opens in 200 locations.

8th September 1939

The Evening Sentinel puts out a call for volunteers to staff the bureaux in North Staffordshire. There are hopes to eventually open eleven offices at: Meir, Longton, Fenton, Stoke, Hanley, Buslem, Tunstall, Goldenhill, Abbey Hulton, Newcastle and Kidsgrove.





In co-operation with the National Council of Social Service, steps are being taken to establish at various points throughout North Staffordshire a series of Citizens Advice Bureaux.
Social Service organisations in many towns have set up similar bureaux, the object being that the public will be provided with vital information on personal and social problems. The success of their work will depend upon a simple but efficient scheme of organisations, and the willingness of local authorities, voluntary bodies and private individuals to co-operate.
Apart from the problems peculiar to a war, the bureaux will provide for advice about hostel and lodging accommodation for workers transferred from other parts of the country; canteens and clubs and other social facilities; and the provision made by central and local authorities for the prevention and relief of distress, together with the auxiliary services available from voluntary societies for the same purpose.


Bureaux have been established in a number of the larger towns of the Midlands and throughout the country, and the general scheme has the full knowledge and approval of the Ministry of Health and the Lord Privy Seal.

At these bureaux and attempt will be made to give advice about family and personal problems and difficulties which arise from war conditions.

While the bureaux will not be centres of information for A.R.P. or official matters, they might act as local clearing houses for information and advice, and an attempt will be made to refer inquirers on official matters to the relative departments.

Particularly will the bureaux be useful in giving information about various voluntary organisation in the district, and local and national authorities, it is expected, might find the bureaux of value in this connection as centres to which could be referred cases of difficulty needing advice and help from voluntary sources.


It is hoped to set up very shortly a bureau in each of the following areas: Meir, Longton, Fenton, Stoke, Hanley, Buslem, Tunstall, Goldenhill, Abbey Hulton, Newcastle and Kidsgrove.

Others will follow where demand arises. The bureaux are being organised on a voluntary basis and the headquarters for the time being, are at Craft House, Pool Dam, Newcastle, Staffs. Telephone Newcastle 67381.

A meeting for volunteers not committed to other forms of voluntary National Service is being held at the Church Institute, Stoke, to-morrow, when Mr. Richard Cottam of the National Council of Social Service will speak on the nature of the bureau service.

Mr. John Rhodes is acting in North Staffordshire on behalf of Mr. Richard Clements, Midland Advisory Officer for the National Council of Social Service.


16th September 1939

Another call for volunteers for the five bureaux offices set up so far: Burslem, Longton, Meir, Stoke and Tunstall.

Citizens’ Advice Bureaux In North Staffs.

Good progress has been made with the plans to establish Citizens’ Advice Bureaux in various parts of North Staffordshire, and on Monday offices will be opened at the following centres:-

Art School, Queen-street, Burslem;

Central Hall, Stafford-street, Longton:

Community centre, Uttoxeter-rd., Meir;

Victoria Church Institute, Church-street, Stoke; and

Forster-street Council School, Tunstall.

The bureaux service is being built up in co-operation with the national Council of Social Service, and reports are being received from various parts of the country that the public is taking ready advantage of it. It is felt that useful emergency work is being done by the volunteers, who, through the bureaux service, may be in a position to help with the many personal and family difficulties which have risen from the dislocation and anxiety cause by the war.

For the time being the bureaux in Stoke-on-Trent will be open each afternoon, except Sunday, from 2 to 4 p.m.

The hours will be extended if necessary, and steps are being taken to open further bureaux as quickly as possible.

Volunteers are still required, and anyone wishing to know about the work is asked to communicate with the central bureau at Craft House, Pool Dam, Newcastle (Telephone 67381).

It is not intended that the bureaux shall be staffed by experts or persons having encyclopaedic knowledge, but personnel is being recruited and information collected by means of which it is hoped that a reliable advice and information service will be readily available to the public.

On official matters the bureaux service will act largely as a clearing hours and efforts will be made to refer inquirers to particular departments or officials. Particularly, it is hoped, will the service be useful in connection with the work of the voluntary organisations. The personnel of the bureaux will consist very largely of people having contact with and knowledge of the various organisations which already exist to render various forms of voluntary service and help.

The scheme has Government approval, and with the co-operation of the national and local government departments, a very helpful service can be rendered to the public.


27th October 1939

About 50 bureau workers attend a meeting to discuss the progress of the service in North Staffs. They have dealt with 350 inquiries since the first bureaux were opened in September. By this point there are nine bureaux in operation. Milton, Hanley, Newcastle and Kidsgrove Bureaux have joined Burslem, Longton, Meir, Stoke and Tunstall,




A meeting under the auspices of the Stoke-on-Trent and District Social Service Emergency Committee was held at Craft House, Newcastle, for those working with the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux in North Staffordshire.

About 50 bureau workers were present representing the nine bureaux which have so far been set up.

At the first session, a discussion on the work of the bureaux was opened but Miss Lamb, Secretary for the Longton Bureau, who described the way in which she and her helpers had set about their work in Longton. She stressed particularly the way in which the number of people coming for advice had gradually increased since the bureau was opened from one or two a day, until now they were receiving up to eight inquires a day.

The bureau had early on it its career made contact with the local authorities and voluntary organisations such as the Unemployment Assistance Board, the Employment Exchange, the Personal Service League, and the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families’ Association – bodies whose co-operation they had found to be of great value in dealing with inquiries.

A discussion followed on ways and means of improving the work of the bureaux and ensuring that the services which they provided should be more widely known in the areas which they were seeking to serve.

At the second session two short talks were given on special problems of interest to bureaux workers – one by Mr. Geoffrey Swann on “The Legal Position of the Dependent.” And the other on “The Work of the Unemployment Assistance Board in Wartime” by Mr. C. Hanchard, of the District Office of the U.A.B.

These talks were felt by those present to be of real assistance in helping to clarify problems with which the bureaux had been trying to deal.

A number of questions were asked in the short time available for discussion.

From their opening in the middle of September until the present date, more than 350 enquiries, covering a wide range of subjects, have been dealt with by the bureaux. Their existence seems, therefore, to justify itself, and it is hoped that their usefulness will increase in the coming months. The following is a complete list of the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux now open in North Staffordshire each afternoon of the week, except Sunday:-

Burslem.-Art School, Queen-street, Burslem.

Longton.-Central Hall. Stafford-street, Longton.

Meir.-Community Centre, Uttoxeter Road, Meir.

Stoke.-Victoria Church Institute. Church-street, Stoke-on-Trent.

Tunstall.-Forster – street Council School, Tunstall.

Milton.-Wesleyan Schools, Bagnall-road, Milton.

Hanley.-Y.M.C.A., Marsh-street, Hanley.

Kidsgrove.-School House, Liverpool-road, Kidsgrove.

Newcastle.-Provincial Bank House, Penkhull-street, Newcastle, Staffordshire.


24th November 1939

The nine bureaux have dealt with more than 1,000 cases since opening

Citizens’ Advice Bureaux



The steady growth in the number of inquiries at the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux proves that a very useful service is being rendered to the public.

There are now established throughout the country 840 Advice Bureaux working in conjunction with the National Council of Social Service. In the nine which have been established in North Staffordshire under the direction of the Stoke-on-Trent and District Social Service Emergency Committee, more than 1,000 cases have been dealt with in the last few weeks. Many of the offices are kept fully engaged for the period they are open.

The objects of the bureaux are primarily to help with the difficulties and anxieties which the war has caused and to give advice regarding the new regulations. Many inquiries can be answered immediately; many cases, however, require reference to authorities by personal calls, telephone or letter.

It is often necessary to refer an inquirer to the appropriate department of the local authorities, some branch of national service or a voluntary agency which alone can give the necessary satisfaction. In these cases the bureaux act as clearing houses.


In all matters the aim is to introduce a sympathetic and personal interest in people’s difficulties. One bureau which after inquiry, was able to reassure a mother of her solder son’s safety and to give her the address to which to write him, received in gratitude, a bunch of home-grown chrysanthemums with the words “It is nice to feel there is a place like this to come to.”

The success of the bureaux is due in no small measure to the ready encouragement and help which they have received from authorities, voluntary organisations and many private persons in North Staffordshire.


To serve more satisfactorily the areas in which they are situated, certain bureaux have made alterations in their times of opening. The following is a revised list of places and times:-

Burslem. – Art School, Queen-street, Burslem. Open: Monday to Thursday, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.; Friday, 2 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.

Longton. – Central Hall, Stafford-street, Longton. Open: Monday to Friday, 2.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.; Friday, 5.30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Meir. – Community Centre, Uttoxeter-road, Meir. Open: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 2.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.

Stoke. – Victoria Church Institute, Church-street. Open: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 2.30 p.m. – 6.30 p.m.

Milton. – Wesleyan Schools, Bagnall-road, Milton. Open: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 2.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.

Hanley. – Y.M.C.A., Marsh-street, Hanley. Open: Monday to Friday, 2.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.; Monday evening, 5.30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Newcastle. – Provincial Bank House, Penkhull-street, Newcastle. Open: Monday to Saturday, 2 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.

Kidsgrove. – School House, Liverpool-road, Kidsgrove. Open: Monday and Friday, 2.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.; Wednesday, 10.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.

Tunstall. – Forster-street Council School, Tunstall. Open: Monday to Friday, 3 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.


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