How we are keeping phone services open

Citizens Advice Gateshead has relocated their entire workforce to ensure the coronavirus doesn’t stop them in their mission to help the people of Gateshead.

The charity has retrained, redeployed and resourced its 162 strong workforce allowing them to continue providing free independent social welfare advice and information to people in Gateshead and across the country from their own homes.

The doors may have closed on the Swan Street headquarters of the charity in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but the service is well and truly open after a ground-breaking operation has successfully repositioned virtually all 162 of the charity’s staff to run their advice service and support their colleagues across the country.

Chief Officer Alison Dunn has been coordinating the operation and said,

“Thousands of people in Gateshead are currently facing uncertainty and distress and we are determined to ensure that we continue to do our part in helping them during this unprecedented situation.”

This relocation of staff and some of the charity’s volunteers to work at home has involved retraining dozens of staff who specialise in face-to-face advice and other roles to become telephone advisers, combined with finding the IT resources needed to run advice software from homes across the region.

Jayne Graham MBE, the charity’s Commercial Director, explained

“We were in the process of bringing our IT into the 21st century, literally a couple of months away from a full transformation to improve our efficiency and reduce costs. The pandemic has fast-tracked some of those developments, with our leadership team working around the clock to get everyone kitted out and able to work at home”.

The Gateshead charity offers more than face-to-face advice; it runs parts of the national Consumer Helpline, the Witness Service and the national Citizens Advice Adviceline. Staff and management were determined that these services had to be supported as recent demand has been at unprecedented levels, with the national Adviceline recently receiving over 2.2 million enquiries in just one week.

Alison Dunn applauded the efforts of her staff team who have really got behind the change.

“Everyone has been going the extra mile to help and support each other as we transition to this new way of working. We’re dedicated to helping people when they need it the most, so every single one of us is doing our bit to make sure that help is available throughout this difficult period.”

If you live in Gateshead and need help or advice you can ring the local Adviceline on 0300 3309 035. You can also email or book a call back

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