In our second #AdviceAtHome Blog, our CEO Daniel Blake discusses the challenges that lay ahead and the work being carried out at CAH to ensure we are best place to support people through them. This week we join local Citizens Advice teams across the country in shining a spotlight on the brilliant work our staff and volunteers are carrying out from home. From my perspective it has also been a great opportunity to pause and reflect on the strides that our organisation has taken during these difficult times whilst also looking ahead to the challenges we are all yet to face.
I am writing this blog at a unique time for both Citizens Advice Haringey (CAH) and Haringey as a whole. The uptake of the vaccine and the easing of restrictions, give us hope of sunlight at the end of a very dark tunnel.
However, whilst things may be looking up health wise for many of us, for too many local residents the economic outlook has never looked bleaker. People are rightly worried about maintaining a safe and secure home once the ban on evictions is lifted. Many of the jobs that have been furloughed until September will never come back meaning many residents will need to rely on Universal Credit to survive.
High quality advice services are needed now more than ever and we have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes to ensure that we remain at the forefront in Haringey.
For CAH we have joined the single national queue. This is a partnership of a number of local Citizens Advice organisations working together to ensure that even more calls to our advice lines are answered.
In addition we are delighted that our Help to Claim Service has been extended for a further year. We know that Universal Credit is going to have to do some heavy lifting over the coming months to support people in the borough to keep their heads above water. We will be there to support residents navigating the system over the next 12 months!
We are recruiting and training more volunteers than ever before. In order to meet the demand of people needing advice in our borough we are having to think about how we can do more for less, how we can increase our capacity and how we can provide advice, support and guidance in a way that suits people's needs and circumstances. The way in which our new volunteers have seamlessly fitted in to the way we operate, for many without even coming face to face with a single colleague, is a true testament to their determination to serve our community.
We want to build back better, both in terms of our offer and what people’s lives look like after the pandemic.
In terms of our services we won’t be returning to the pre-pandemic days. We are building new advice channels via our chat-bot service, email advice, telephone and face to face. We are building back to face to face appointments across the borough where residents will know that they are going to get seen, the time they will be seen and what they will need to bring to get the most out of their appointments.
Building back better in Haringey, can only come if agencies across different sectors (statutory, voluntary and community) work together to ensure we have the services we need delivered in a way that best suits the needs of our unique and diverse borough! Throughout this #AdviceAtHome event we will be sharing the insights of our staff and volunteers into how they feel the organisation has changed for the better, the way they view the work carried out by their colleagues and most importantly their take on why local residents need to be made aware of the support available to them. I just want to take this opportunity to thank our staff and volunteers for continuing to deliver high quality advice to the local community over the last year or so, to thank them for their hard work and to also say that it is never too soon to reach out to us here at CAH. We are on hand to support you and to make your life easier. If you require the support of Citizens Advice Haringey you can call us for free on 0808 278 7966 (Mon-Fri, 10-4)