Getting online helps vulnerable families manage transition to Universal Credit
Flying Start Cwm supports families who are in debt or struggling to manage their finances. The roll-out of Universal Credit was causing real difficulties for people, so Digital Communities Wales gave assistance so the organisation could provide essential digital support.
Tania Hayward, Family Support Co-ordinator for Flying Start Cwm, was experienced in helping people with a variety of problems – in debt or financial difficulties; unable to complete forms or set up online accounts; unable to access training to get back into work; or unable to access to affordable credit as opposed to using illegal money lenders. She met with DCW Advisor Angela Jones to see how the project could help her and her team deliver digital support to people who needed it.
A lack of digital equipment had prevented any formal digital activities from taking place at Flying Start Cwm. DCW loaned the organisation two iPads for a six month period. The loan period was used to gather evidence to build a business case for the purchase of equipment, so that digital support could continue when the iPads were returned to DCW.
15 staff from Cwm, Blaina and Cefn Golau attended the DCW half-day workshop Supporting People to Get Online. The session also covered Meeting the Digital Demands of Universal Credit. Following the training, staff were signposted to a wide range of suitable resources that can be used to support clients with different needs.
Flying Start staff were also given licence codes so they could join the Digital Champions Network, which gives access to a wide range of resources and support tools.
The team found that the iPads were hugely useful. They could help people:
- Apply for grants such as Eat Sleep Play Learn from Save the Children
- Set up Universal Credit accounts
- Make childcare applications
- Watch parenting videos
- Complete online application forms for payments such as Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments
Flying Start clients can now use the iPads to check their online Universal Credit accounts. This helps them to keep up-to-date with the payments going in and out of their accounts. They’re also using the iPads to find online videos and websites relating to health and well-being, confidence and self-esteem.
One staff member used the iPad to help a young Mum who came to the hub in tears because her Universal Credit payments had been stopped and she’d been told that she wouldn’t receive any money for the next three weeks. She was extremely worried because she was in rent arrears and didn’t know how she was going to manage. She said she couldn’t even afford baby milk.
The team managed to get her an emergency appointment with Citizen’s Advice. They used the iPad to go through all her finances and online Universal Credit account. The Advisor managed to get some back payments that she was entitled to. They also used the iPad to apply for a food-bank voucher for Mum and her baby. Mum has continued to get support from the staff and is now accessing groups in the hub.