Coping during COVID-19
Who could have imagined that 80 years after we first opened our doors as a frontline national emergency wartime service we would be coping with an unprecedented national civil emergency. Quite apart from the serious danger to health, the scale and impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is causing significant financial hardship to many people as jobs are lost or put on hold and rents and mortgages and regular bills cannot be paid. Throughout its history the Citizens Advice service has capably adapted its services and delivery channels to meet changing needs. This time, Citizens Advice Westminster has been able to compensate for the closure of our office and outreach centres by delivering our service to clients online and over the phone. Since lockdown was imposed we have helped 125 clients driven into hardship as a result of the pandemic – the most common problems being the need to apply for universal credit and employment issues as firms are forced to close and furlough employees where they can.
Over 60% of clients have reached us by phone and over 30% via email, with 36% of all enquiries now about universal credit, up from 20%. And enquiries about employment advice have more than tripled from 4% to 13%.
Meanwhile our work continues to support clients across the range of everyday life problems and I hope you find this first Focus edition of 2020 an interesting snapshot of the work we’ve been doing since the start of the year. We hope that you and your family, friends and colleagues stay safe and well. We are still open, albeit in a virtual way, to support Westminster residents through this crisis.
You can call our Adviceline on 0300 330 1191. Or visit our COVID-19 information:
Shirley Springer, Chief Executive