More than 5,000 of our customers benefit from welfare calls during the coronavirus pandemic
5,047 of our customers have now been contacted by our staff to make sure they are safe and well since the government introduced measures in March to help tackle coronavirus.
Customers aged 70+, and others flagged up to be vulnerable and isolated, received the calls during the Covid-19 lockdown as part of our response to the pandemic.
Making sure that customers have got enough food to eat; helping those with financial problems; supporting customers’ wellbeing or just having a good chat are just some of the ways that staff on the phones have been making a difference to customers at this challenging time.
Community Impact Manager, Bev Bertenshaw, who organised the welfare calls programme said: “There were many different issues identified through the calls. Some customers have wanted straightforward advice or have just been happy to have a friendly chat. Others may have struggled with food or shopping.
"In such instances, some customers have been given access to our affordable food offer (The Bread and Butter Thing). Others, where appropriate, been provided with food bank vouchers or put into contact with local food delivery services. In some cases, where customers aren’t able to get out, we have arranged to deliver groceries. We’re linking in with the Oldham borough coronavirus response hubs to match customers with support from other agencies in Oldham, too.
“Our community impact advisors have also been dealing with one off enquiries from customers about financial issues, for example being unable to pay their electricity bills or heat their home. The team has been offering advice as needed, providing budgeting and benefits advice and referring them to useful services such as Warm Homes Oldham. Other customers have seen their employment impacted and have been referred to our Directions employment service.
“Feedback from customers about the welfare calls has been overwhelmingly positive, with people and their families appreciative of the support, which has been great to hear.”
Making thousands of phone calls to customers is no mean feat and resource has come from right across the business, including from teams which were redeployed when government restrictions meant their work changed.
Ross Taylor from our Neighbourhood Care team would ordinarily have been on duty cutting grass during the spring, but got involved in the welfare calls programme. He said: “I checked in with our customers to see how they were they doing, then ask if they needed any help with things like gas, electric, food, picking up medication and so on and passing the information on our relevant teams, so they could give them more support.
“Even if my customers didn’t need any specific help, sometimes they just needed a chat because they hadn’t seen anyone for such a long time. It’s been a difficult period for many people and I’m pleased to have played my part in delivering this important support.”
The welfare calls programme is continuing by colleagues in our Community Impact and Independence teams, as other colleagues have returned to their day jobs, but Bev is grateful for everyone who’s been involved: “The team effort to deliver the welfare call programme has been amazing, to achieve so many calls and provide so much support in a short period of time is fantastic. I had a phenomenal response from colleagues all wanting to do their bit and it speaks volumes about the caring people we have here in our organisation – thank you!”