My name is Julie and I am the Money Advice Caseworker here at Citizens Advice Solihull Borough.
Last week I wrote a about how we are managing to work at home and the obstacles that brings. This week we have been doing something different to our usual roles.
We have been working with Solihull Health Partnership, who have identified all their patients who are considered to be extremely vulnerable to the Coronavirus. There are over 600 patients that need to be contacted, so we have all been very busy.
I have been calling the patients and registering them on the Gov.UK website which will entitle them to additional support for food parcels, or priority delivery slots with supermarkets. I have also been giving advice and support regarding their medication needs, finances and any other concerns they may have.
I have enjoyed making the calls; it has been lovely to speak to lots of friendly people who are all so happy for the support that they are being offered at this difficult time.
If you know someone who is classed as extremely vulnerable, and they have received their letter from the NHS you can register them for additional support on https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
These calls will continue into next week. We are working as fast as we can to reach everyone that needs our help!
Remember that our doors may be closed but we are still here, helping Solihull Residents. If you, or someone you know, needs advice or support then please call us on our Adviceline 0300 330 9010 Monday – Friday between 10am – 2.30pm.
Week 2 – My role is to help client’s who are struggling with their debts. I give advice about maximising their income, budgeting and options for dealing with their debts. I will also negotiate with the creditors on the client’s behalf. As you can appreciate this is an extremely busy role!
Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic we have been working remotely, at home, now for nearly 2 weeks. This has proven, at times, to be extremely challenging. We can not see people face to face, and cannot see paperwork, so we have to rely on people in providing us with accurate information over the phone. As many of the people we help are vulnerable this is not always easy for them to do.
We also have an issue regarding getting written consent to act on peoples behalf. This is usually a form which the they sign. As we are not with the person, we cannot get them to sign it, so we are having to be creative. The companies that people owe money to are called creditors. Due to Data Protection Regulations the creditors will not deal with us without the persons consent. We are having to ask our clients to call the creditors to give authority for them to speak to us. Some people have been able to sign forms electronically and email them to us. Some have had to rely on the old-fashioned postal method!
As you can appreciate everything is taking a lot longer than it usually would, but I am still helping any person that needs our support. I am keeping my existing cases ticking over. This means my poor Administration Assistant, Sharon, sending multiple emails to lots of organisations. Finding the email addresses can be difficult to say the least!
I’m also helping on our Advice Line, taking calls and giving advice to as many people as we can. Most of the calls taken this week have been about the Coronavirus Pandemic and the impact this is having on peoples employment. They want to know their rights about having 80% of their wages paid, and also what they can claim in terms of financial support from benefits, mortgage holidays etc.
These are difficult, challenging, times, for us all. Remember that, although our gates are closed, we are still open and helping those who need us. If you are worried about your bills, have debts that you can’t pay, then call us on 0300 330 9019. Our lines are open Monday – Friday from 10am until 2.30pm.