Citizens Advice Sheffield moves to phone and onlinePosted by: Claudia Downs
Photo by Benjamin Elliott
Citizens Advice Sheffield (CAS) announces that, from Monday 23 March, it will provide an enhanced phone and digital offer to residents who are experiencing the impact of coronavirus in their communities.
Following Government recommendations to avoid all non-essential contact, CAS took the decision to close its face-to-face provision on Tuesday 17 March to protect the health of its staff, volunteers and clients in Sheffield.
Instead, Citizens Advice Sheffield has invested in more resources and will be offering a significantly enhanced telephone Advice Line service to make sure that all of its advice and casework services are available during this period of national emergency.
This means that Sheffield residents will continue to be able to get vital free help and advice about benefits including universal credit and income, employment, housing, debt and immigration issues.
The charity, which is one of the largest Citizens Advice services in England, expects to answer in excess of 200 calls every day to its Advice Line alone and has spent the past week mobilising to move its staff and volunteers to home working.
CAS advisers will use translation services or bilingual skills where available to overcome language barriers and will give advice to Sheffield’s deaf community via online video calls. The organisation is working with other services across the city including Sheffield City Council to ensure our communities get the support they need.
Callers to the Advice Line will be referred to an appropriate expert, who will phone them back to reduce the cost to clients.
Clare Lodder, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Sheffield, said: “We know that a crisis like we’re facing at the moment will inevitably have a massive impact on people who are on benefits, low incomes and in insecure employment. We are already helping people who have been laid off and are trying to claim Universal Credit in very difficult circumstances.
“Citizens Advice is an organisation for people to turn to when they are in crisis. We’re determined that we will be available for Sheffield communities in the very best way we can manage.”
Mark Gamsu, Chair of Citizens Advice Sheffield, added: “The Citizens Advice service was set up on the second day of the Second World War, so Citizens Advice is older than the NHS. It was set up precisely to respond to a period of extreme crisis, so its primary purpose is to help people at a time when things are uncertain. This is why we’re here.”
From Monday 23 March until further notice, Sheffield residents can get help by telephone on the following numbers:
Advice Line - 03444 113 111 (Mon to Fri, 10am-4pm) The first point of contact for people across the city to access advice from CAS.
Help To Claim Helpline - 0800 144 8 444 (Mon to Fri, 8am-6pm) For help and support with Universal Credit claims.
Consumer Service Helpline - 0800 04 05 06 (Mon to Fri, 9am-5pm) For help with consumer rights including energy supplies.
The Citizens Advice Sheffield website will be regularly updated in the coming days and weeks, so residents can access up-to-date information about the charity’s services.