A CHARITY which supports thousands of people across Somerset could fold unless a team of volunteers comes forward, its chief officer has warned this week.

Jon Shoesmith said the future of Citizens Advice Taunton is in jeopardy as it faces the biggest challenge in its 63-year history.

He said the Magdalene Street-based charity needs to attract more people prepared to offer their time for free to keep its vital service afloat.

He fears the organisation could be a knock-on victim of the financial crisis at Somerset County Council, which has led to a £91,000 cut in the charity's core funding.

Mr Shoesmith said the massive level of the reduction is bound to have a significant impact on the service it offers and could result in "a severe cut in its support to local people".

He added: "Following the funding cuts from the county council, we are facing the biggest and most pressing dilemma in our 63-year history.

"We are urgently asking people to volunteer to support us with our endeavour to build a strong and steady future for this vital local service.

"Without volunteers this service would not be able to continue."

In the 12 months to the end of March this year, Citizens Advice Taunton saw more than 6,000 people with problems ranging from managing debt and household bills, to rights at work, benefits and housing issues.

Mr Shoesmith said: "It is a charity that offers a vital life line to local people who are facing a difficult time in their lives and have nowhere else to turn."

Anyone interested in volunteering for Citizens Advice Taunton should visit tauntoncab.org.uk or contact recruitment administrator Jan Willis at jan.willis@tauntoncab.org.uk

An army of 23,000 trained volunteers across the country supports the delivery of the work of Citizens Advice, formerly Citizens Advice Bureau, which was founded in 1939. Citizens Advice Taunton is one of hundreds of independent charities under the same umbrella.