Our Citizens Advice Eastbourne volunteers have been working from home since 23 March 2020. The team moved swiftly to homeworking when the first pandemic lockdown started. Offering advice and information by telephone and email from their own homes to community of Eastbourne.
What did your volunteers do?
Our team of volunteers, mainly Advisers and Assessors, had to adapt within a few days from a face to face and telephone based advice service working from the Citizens Advice office in Eastbourne, to home based working. This involved getting used to new technology, working more independently and dealing with lots of new issues as a result of the Coronavirus.
All the work initially had to be carried out remotely by telephone and email. More recently, some volunteers have been trained to give advice over video links to clients who cannot access the service by telephone. A number of volunteers took on extra duties to assist clients with the completion of complex benefit forms. New volunteers have also been recruited and began their training (via video link) with a number now up and running as trained assessors or advisers.
The service currently has over 30 active volunteers working from home providing advice to clients on any number of issues that affect their lives. Volunteers had to very quickly get to grips with new policies and procedures too – in order to advise on Coronavirus support and latest Government advice.
How did your volunteers make a difference?
Since changing the service our volunteers have given advice and support to over 3,600 clients from Eastbourne and the surrounding area.
They helped with over 11,400 advice issues, including worries about debts, changes to benefits, employment concerns, housing problems and relationship breakdowns. Many of the issues were specifically related to the impact of Covid-19.
Clients who had never used our service before suddenly needed advice, as they saw their income drop or the work suddenly stop. Our volunteers were able to help these clients navigate the Benefits system, including claiming Universal Credit where needed, as well assert employment rights to furlough pay where appropriate.
The volunteers’ advice helped generate additional income of over £3.3 million for our clients in the form of debts managed, refunds given, compensation awarded and benefits claimed.