#Adviceathome 6 months on
The last 6 months have been some of the most turbulent in our service’s recent history, with necessary changes to the service being made constantly to ensure we can support those who need it most. We were reminded of the purpose for which Citizens Advice was founded in WWII, to give advice to the public about changing wartime regulations.
Since March, our staff and volunteering teams have worked tirelessly to overhaul the way we worked in a matter of weeks, going from providing a 5-day weekday face-to-face advice at drop-ins across multiple offices, to a 7-day remote service, using telephone and email to give clients the advice and support they so desperately needed as Government guidance changed daily.
We have been learning the meaning of furlough and then helping you to understand what that means for yourself and your future. We have been helping you to access services remotely so that you don’t need to leave your home to get answers to your questions. We’ve given hundreds of workers who have been made redundant advice about whether their dismissal was fair and helped you to look forward to the future despite unemployment, through our Help to Claim and Better Off Finance team.
All benefit issues and applications and appeals are now completed online with shared screens to complete PIP, DLA and attendance forms with you. Tribunals are done by phone and paper submission with outcomes equally as successful without anyone leaving their home.
Our health team have called those most vulnerable in Liverpool to provide company and emotional and physical support to those that need it most. We have continued to support those affected by homophobic and transphobic hate crime, understanding that hatred can still grow during times of crisis and sending a message of support out instead.
We have been able to help thousands out of debts that were crippling, and the support given by our Money Advice Team has been invaluable in making every penny matter.
We have given immigration advice to those who may be isolated due to lockdown restrictions, ensuring that not speaking English is not a barrier to accessing our service. Our team of EU Settlement Scheme volunteers have adapted to working remotely and feel lucky to be able to give back to the community during such a turbulent time.
We have continued to offer specialist pensions advice and dedicated support in applying to claim Universal Credit right up until the first correct payment is received. We have continued to reach out to marginalised communities making sure that those who most need our service can access it, distributing 10,000 leaflets through foodbanks and other charities to guarantee that you have our phone number to hand whenever you need it.
Our administrative team have guided your calls to all corners of Merseyside where our advisers, managers, trustees and volunteers are working from their homes eager to take your call. Although face to face drop-ins and appointments have been suspended, we have launched new ways of getting in touch, through WhatsApp and email.
We have helped over 14,000 people in the last 6 months, 2000 more people than the 6 months previous, and ensured that they are still accessible to people in all areas of Liverpool. Our ‘business as usual’ approach has made sure that all projects and advice that was available before lockdown is still available, just delivered differently.
We will continue to work this hard for our city because we are passionate about our service. We understand the difficult time this is for us all and we hope you’ll continue to understand and support us as we work through these next 6 months together.
We are still here for you. For general advice, call: 0344 848 7700
For debt advice, call: 0300 330 1196
For help to claim Universal Credit, call: 0800 144 8 444
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively, you can head to www.citizensadvice.org.uk for self-help advice and web-chat support services. We will keep people informed of any updates to our local services via our website www.citizensadviceliverpool.org.uk and Twitter account: @CALiverpool_