By nickihodgson - posted on May 11, 2020

Virtual Home Visits

With the country in lockdown we have been providing advice and support to vulnerable local residents remotely via phone and email, rather than our usual home visits, office appointments and outreach sessions. Here are some examples of clients we have been able to help through our adapted service:

Broken heating

This client and his partner are in their 30s, they have multiple health conditions and receive disability and carers benefits. They contacted us because their boiler broke, they had no heating and hot water and couldn’t afford to fix it. Our advisor helped them apply for funding for a replacement boiler and make arrangements for an engineer to visit their home and safely carry out the work. The advisor also helped them with advice on keeping warm, and applying for the £140 Warm Home Discount and additional support from their utility suppliers through the Priority Services Register.

Heating upgrade and bill savings

This client was referred by Adult Services for our support. He is epileptic and can’t work so receives Universal Credit and PIP, he lives alone and his home is energy inefficient and costs a lot to heat. Our advisor found that the client was eligible for first-time central heating funding, cavity wall insulation and small energy efficiency measures, so has made arrangements for these to be carried out once lockdown restrictions are lifted. In the meantime the advisor was able to help the client switch energy tariff (saving £60), access a water tariff discount, order a save-a-flush bag (saving £18) and get on the Priority Services Register.

Energy efficiency

These clients were referred by family because they were finding it hard to stay warm and well in their home. The couple are pensionable age, they have multiple health conditions and receive disability benefits. Our advisor helped them apply for loft insulation and cavity wall insulation to keep the heat in, and will provide them with draught-proofing materials once we are able to home visit again. The advisor also referred them for a Hampshire Fire and Rescue safe and well visit and to their supplier’s Priority Services Register.

Additional support

We helped this client switch supplier in the past, after she was referred by her support worker, and she got in touch with us again to check she was still on the best tariff. The client has learning difficulties and is hard of hearing, she lives in a council home and has a limited income. Our advisor confirmed she was still on the cheapest tariff and discovered her Warm Home Discount voucher had expired before she was able to use it, so arranged for the supplier to provide a £140 top-up credit code for her to use. As we are working remotely the advisor used a mixture of calls and text messages, if the client couldn’t hear everything discussed. The advisor also helped her apply for the Priority Services Register and made a referral to Citizens Advice to check she is getting all the financial support she is entitled to.

Crisis support

This client got in touch for support because due to Covid-19 he is unable to work and is waiting to receive Universal Credit payments. The client has a mental health condition, lives alone, rents from a housing association and has a pre-payment meter. The client had no phone credit but was able to get through to us on our Freephone number. Our advisor talked to the client about letting his energy supplier know he was struggling to top-up, unfortunately the client was unable to get through to them on the phone, but was able to apply online for their Priority Services Register. The advisor helped the client apply for a £20 energy top-up voucher, a £50 small grant and four weeks’ food supply. The client had other health and financial worries, including picking up his prescription, and the advisor signposted him to the local Covid-19 Response Centre for support.

If you or someone you know could benefit from our help, please get in touch.