Despite some doubts the new Advice Framework has been a great success and will now be included in the Outreach programme. People involved are confident of it improving the service.
The new Advice Framework has now been in operation since October the 17th 2016. Since then there have been major improvements to the service.
For example, no longer are we turning anybody away, waiting times have been reduced from what was commonly between 45 minutes to 2 hours, to as little as 10 to 15 minutes. Also, the number of clients seen has increased from about 55 a week to around 100.
Outreach services have proved to be a much needed service making the charity more accessible. At an outreach, there is one advisor who uses the new Advice Framework, they will be able to see more clients than before with the option to refer people on where the client requires more help. Instead of a 30 minute interview, they will be asked what help they require and are given the information needed there and then; saving clients’ time.
George Scuffham, Advice Session Supervisor at the Town Hall is excited about the new changes. He said: “Every day we were turning people away because we couldn’t deal with them. Since we’ve had the new system, nobody has been turned away.”
Fiona Carter, Outreach Assessor, was equally enthusiastic, she said: “It will be really useful as it will allow more clients to be seen and shorter waiting times”. She added: “This means more time if necessary to deal with more complex problems.”
She gave the example of signposting as a way of saving valuable time. Saying that referring someone to the Council, to solicitors or a specialist agency means that the client can be dealt with very quickly.
The idea for the Advice Framework was a national one and now that it is being tried within our Outreach programme, it is being considered for a permanent place at Kinson where the same success is expected.
George explained: “We’ve done all the work; it just needs to start happening now.”
Fiona said: “As soon as I learnt about the new Advice Framework, I was very keen for it to be rolled out to Outreach.”
It is widely hoped that more people will turn to Citizens Advice Bournemouth as a first point of call for information and to be pointed in the right direction, especially when it comes to debt and benefit appeals.