Residents of Falmouth, Penryn and surrounding villages who are struggling with debt or welfare benefit issues are being offered the chance of free, face-to-face consultations with London lawyers thanks to a pilot project being offered through the Dracaena Centre.

The Legal Education Foundation is funding the project which is run by the Legal Advice Centre (LAC) in Bethnal Green, which has chosen the Dracaena Centre to partner with for the pilot. The centre in Falmouth is now running two sessions a week when it invites people with serious problems with debt or access to benefits to pop in and seek help.

Sessions are held between 2pm and 4pm on Mondays and 10am to noon on Fridays when people can meet with a trained volunteer to discuss their issues. Full details are taken and passed back to the LAC who then enrol the services of a solicitor to look into the matter.

The resident is then asked back to the Dracaena Centre, usually within two weeks, when they will have a face-to-face consultation with the lawyer via Skype.

"This project is very exciting," said Richard May, manager of the Dracaena Centre. "It is offering free legal advice for debt and welfare benefit issues in the first instance but we believe it is going to grow into other areas.

"We have got a couple of clients already, test cases to make sure the systems are all working, so now we are promoting it. I would encourage anybody who is concerned about debt or welfare benefits to come to one our sessions. Local knowledge is telling us there are issues out there."

The new project aims to run alongside the "excellent" services already provided in Falmouth by Citizens' Advice and the Beacon Community Regeneration Project. "We have spoken to them and definitely see our project as complementary to existing services," said Mr May. "We recognised all the excellent work that's already being done and they are on board with us. There are certain cases they cannot deal with."

The pilot may also, eventually, involve local lawyers. "The Legal Education Foundation is creating links with local law firms to see how we can involved them in the project," said Mr May.

The confidential service is being coordinated in Falmouth by Jo Duncan, who has some volunteers working alongside her, including members of the Rotary Club, but would like to recruit more.

Anyone interested in accessing the free legal advice, or learning more about volunteering, should pop down to one of the sessions or call the Dracaena Centre on 01326 319414.