Andrew, employment and money advice officer
Andrew is usually based in our busy office in Stafford. During lockdown, he has been working from home.
“We had to act really quickly to ensure that we could continue to provide essential services for customers, many of whom are in a vulnerable position.
“The first few weeks in lockdown were incredibly busy. There were so many calls from tenants who needed to claim benefits for the first time. People were understandably anxious and we were helping them through the process. There were three of us supporting these calls and I personally worked on 50 cases.
“There were a lot of announcements and new initiatives to keep on top of, too, as news came out of government. People wanted to discuss the implications of furloughing and the self-employment income support scheme.”
One of the people Andrew spoke to was Lisa, who found the experience of making her first benefits claim very daunting.
“If it wasn’t for Andrew, I don’t know how we would have managed. I am still in employment but my partner has had to stop working because of ill health and my son is furloughed. We were going to struggle to pay our rent and other bills. I didn’t know how to go about making a claim for Universal Credit and when the assessment came through, we found out that I would only receive half the expected amount.
“Andrew has been on the end of the phone every step of the way, talking me through making the claim and helping to get the assessment changed. I’ve never met Andrew; he’s been a voice over the telephone during lockdown but the support he has provided has made such a difference.”
Andrew’s role normally involves advising people who are facing debt, finding it difficult to manage their money or whose circumstances have changed.
“A lot of my work is face-to-face and I needed to find new ways to help. Some parts of my job have been more difficult but for our customers, it’s a lifeline.
“I have missed personal contact with customers and colleagues but I’m proud of what we have been able to do in such challenging times. We’ve all learned a lot, very quickly and perhaps that might enable us to provide even better services in the future.”