Local charity, Citizens Advice South Warwickshire has seen a surge in the number of issues each person has needed help with by almost 30% compared to the same period last year. These people are being supported on the phone, by email or webchat while the normal face-to-face service is temporarily suspended due to the Covid-19 [Coronavirus] outbreak.
Yvonne Hunter, Chair of Trustees for Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said “We have been moved by the generosity of our volunteers, who have mobilised so quickly to help our community’s most vulnerable during this difficult time. Delivering advice on the phone, email or by webchat takes skill and we have found our volunteers and staff stepping up to this extraordinary and unprecedented change with energy and amazing dedication. I cannot thank them enough.”
She thanked the volunteers, who outnumber staff by almost five to one and have continued to help throughout this difficult time, “Like everyone else we were presented with this challenge almost overnight: to remodel a predominately face-to -face service – which provided over 10,000 face-to-face appointments last year – to being entirely virtual and home-based. As a result, we have seen staff and volunteers rise to the challenge by learning new technologies at lightning speed, and offering their home phones and computers, all in a bid to meet the rising advice needs of our community in crisis.”
Jeremy Vanes, Chief Executive for Citizens Advice South Warwickshire said that employment issues are up by 25% and Universal Credit issues up by over 80% in this early stage of lockdown. “We continue to track the needs of our community to ensure we offer the most comprehensive advice service possible. We have also supported our staff and volunteers to maintain data protection as well as our exceptional advice quality standards through these difficult circumstances.”
How to contact Citizens Advice South Warwickshire for support during the Covid-19 outbreak:
- Instant Self Help: As always many issues can be solved through our comprehensive and informative online resource on our brand partner website www.citizensadvice.org.uk
- Phone: You can reach us by phone between 10:00 – 15:00 Monday to Friday on 0300 330 1183
- Email: Our email form can be found here www.casouthwarwickshire.org.uk/contact/email-us
- Webchat: www.casouthwarwickshire.org.uk/contact/chat-with-us
When lines are busy, we still have an answerphone facility. Return calls might be made outside normal hours and from a withheld number. When leaving any message, please remember to provide:
- Your name
- Your number, and;
- A brief, clear outline of your issue
An adviser will then call you back as soon as they can.
If your query is about our Help to Claim service (claiming Universal Credit):
- Help to Claim phone line Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00 on 0800 144 8 444
- Help to Claim chat online www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/help-to-claim
To refer to a specialist project, please continue in the usual way.