It is my last day before my summer holidays. In a normal world I would have been stocking up on the sun cream for the whole family. But these are not normal times, and, whilst I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy the delights of Scotland, I am not sure that I will need to pack the Ambre Solaire!
I don’t think that any of us have lived through times such as these. I have said it many times, but it warrants saying it again – I am incredibly proud of how we have responded to the crisis as a local community organisation. Everyone has played their part and everyone has been amazing. I am also very grateful to all our community partners for their support.
I am now working with senior leadership team to look to the next stage. How do you plan for the future when (as someone described it) it is like nailing jelly to a wall – there are so few certainties to pin down?
So what are we doing?
We have ensured that, if necessary, we are able to safely see a client face to face in either our Bishop’s Stortford or Hertford offices. We will soon be able to do a home visit if required and we are exploring other opportunities to help people, either in person or remotely. We have risk assessments and procedures for as many eventualities as we can think of. Our priority is to ensure the safety of our volunteers, staff and clients.
We are talking to lots of people (the favourite bit of my job). We have chatted to trustees, to supervisors and to volunteers about what was good about our previous service BC (Before Covid), what we like about the existing set up, what is important to clients and to volunteers. We are collecting views on what our advice service should look like in the near future, whilst we have to be Covid safe, and the longer term once (hopefully) we have a vaccine.
We are also talking a lot to local partners. I believe that if we work even closer together then we can better serve the local community. We are all expecting a huge increase in client numbers due to the economic impact of the pandemic, but if we share resources and work together then I believe we will be able to meet local need.
Throughout this time, we have been talking and listening to our wonderful team of staff and volunteers, seeking their views on how things are working remotely and what we need to think about in planning for the future. I love working for Citizens Advice East Herts. We have managed to keep helping people during the crisis because we have worked together, listened to feedback and acted as a community. This will be the foundation of our approach going forward.
I’ll finish by sharing some recent feedback from a client which is a powerful reminder of why what we do really matters. “Your service is amazing and really helped me understand in a far greater way, the problems that I needed help with. The adviser was so helpful, understanding and committed to giving me the best advice she could. I just want to deal with things correctly and legally understand my position. Peace of mind and a huge lifting of spirits has occurred which is invaluable. I cannot thank you enough.”