Moneywise Plus: How Covid-19 has affected their work

August 12, 2020

Pam, our Moneywise Plus Advisor, has written about some of the financial challenges people are facing as a result of Covid-19 and what she has been doing to help.

Funded project via The Big Lottery and ESF, Moneywise Plus works in partnership with Action Homeless and other organisations who all share the aim to improve the on-going digital and financial competence for people unemployed or economically inactive.

My name is Pam and I work as a Moneywise Plus Advisor and support participants of the project that are not in employment with financial and digital support, with an overall aim of helping them move into education or training.

In normal circumstances I would arrange to meet clients on a face to face basis to explain the project and complete relevant forms. The initial assessment includes their current situation, aims, goals and barriers they are facing and gives the client and myself a record of what tasks we are going to complete.

A lot of my clients are leaving temporary accommodation and I can assist in helping them to register for their utility bills and help with budgeting money and setting up direct debits to pay their bills.  Severn Trent offer a discount scheme which gives them up to 80% off their water bill.    It is also helpful to use a comparison website to look at their utility bills. When working to a weekly or monthly budget all savings can help with ensuring that the client is able to manage their bills.

During the COVID 19 lockdown my role has changed quite a lot and has meant that I am supporting people over the phone which has proved challenging.  I have also found client’s needs have changed and have been trying to ensure that they can manage through this difficult time.  It could be that I contact utility providers to ensure that they have electric, or refer to Leicester City Council for a food parcel.  I have contacted clients on a weekly basis to check that they are well and for a chat if needed.

I have also helped client’s access grants through charities to provide essential items.  Charity Link has continued to support clients through lockdown and I have helped them to get essential items including a cooker, fridge/freezer, and vouchers for bedding.  Another charity who have been really helpful is the Vicars Relief Emergency Fund, which has provided funding for items, specifically in respect of COVID 19.  They have provided grants for laptops for a number of clients which have included helping with isolation, helping to access mental health support online and also for clients to continue online English classes and take exams.

I have also received referrals from the Moneywise Plus central referral system and provided support with CV writing to a participant who lost his job through lockdown.  With an up to date CV he managed to get another job quickly.

For existing clients I feel my working relationship with them has increased with weekly contact over the phone, however with new clients I feel that not having face to face interaction can be a disadvantage as it is harder to do some tasks remotely.  I also worry about the wider implications of lockdown in respect of employment prospects and accessing college courses and continued support from organisation’s that the clients can access.  I am also concerned about clients who have received an increase in Universal Credit during lockdown and how reducing this in the future will affect their situation.

If you have experienced homelessness and would like to receive further support, please contact our specialist worker and Moneywise Plus Advisor, Pamela Nixon for additional support and advice. Pamela can be contacted via email: pamelanixon@actionhomeless.org.uk

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