September 27, 2020
Lockdown has required the advice team to transform how it works. It has meant stopping almost all walk-in sessions for people without an appointment. The biggest challenge has been responding to families who have come to the Centre unannounced. Depending on their needs, they are offered remote advice sessions, supplied with food and essentials to take home, and an appointment for a face-to-face at the Centre is made as soon as possible.
Social distancing and the shift to telephone appointments place further constraints on communication. Despite the range of languages spoken by our staff and volunteers helping out from across the Centre, we can still find ourselves struggling to translate. In addition, advisors report that conversations now take much longer than they would when conducted face-to-face - we have to allow extra time for each appointment at the same time as we attempt to meet extra demand.
The Covid-19 crisis has made it even more difficult for people both to find and to retain jobs. There have been many changes, too, in recent months regarding welfare rights and housing law. More people than ever, some of them clients who have never claimed before, are asking for help with new benefits claims, especially for Universal Credit.