In this weeks Leading the Way blog, Emma Watson, Head of External Communications at Bristow & Sutor, discusses the objectives behind a recent Roundtable event, the feedback from these conversations and what this will lead to across other regions in the weeks and months to come.
Communication has always been key to the enforcement process but this extends to different services as well as directly between customer and client. Success is a common and recurring theme when considering the impact of open collaboration from different personnel and this was made clear throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Despite individual requirements and opinions, working together is usually in the best interest of the people impacted by any industry-related services.
People working within the debt advice sector do not always instantly have the connections they need at a Local Authority which, despite willingness to help from both sides, can sometimes result in time being consumed establishing the right person to speak to. Enforcement firms on the other hand can often provide this immediately due to the daily contact and strong networks they build within councils to achieve their goals. It makes perfect sense therefore for Enforcement specialists to guide conversations between Debt Advice personnel and Local Authorities, utilising pre-existing relationships and the benefits of shared connections for greater efficiency and the good of all involved. Our continued collaboration with debt advice personnel remains a surprise to some, but it is nothing new and has always existed. A universal approach is beneficial to all and will ensure where somebody lives no longer impacts the speed and level of service they can expect to receive.
Fair treatment for all
It is an unfortunate reality across the UK that where someone lives currently dictates the quality of support they gain. Without consistency applied the quality, efficiency and levels of this support can vary significantly even when living in close proximity. This is not fair and should not remain the case. Commitment to networking for the best interest of individuals is why Bristow & Sutor recently organised and held a Roundtable discussion, inviting Parking and Collections managers from the East-Midlands region. Panellists from the welfare teams of Nottingham City Council, North Northamptonshire Council and City of Lincoln Council were present at the event as we discussed the importance of clarity and working collaboratively to make support more universal.
Discussions were detailed and covered varied points of view, from self-reflective and grass-root responsibilities to suggestions of Government legislation initiatives. Bristow & Sutor believes that success can be achieved without external intervention and that it is a moral obligation to facilitate conversations and connections for the good of communities. A shared ambition to promote networking for future success was clear amongst all attendees and we will be looking to replicate similar discussions across other regions in the near future. Our experience from this first event already indicated a key desire to include voices from creditors in addition to welfare personnel and this will now be a feature of all future related events, including our next Roundtable scheduled for the North-West region in the coming weeks.
Enrichment through expertise
Bristow & Sutor is proud to be leading the way with its march on social value and welfare initiatives. Last year, we began to make strides in this space when we hired Helen Addis as Bristow & Sutor Social Responsibility and Customer Welfare Manager. Helen is tasked with tackling misconceptions about enforcement and ensuring social value is prominent in everything our business delivers. This includes delivering training to Debt Advice personnel on how the business operates and the rules around enforcement processes. She has been hard at work connecting with customer groups as well as debt advice sector representatives, promoting the benefits of collaboration and increasing understanding of what will lead to the best outcomes. Testament to the work Helen has already undertaken, she has recently been invited to join the Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG) as a committee member and will now be supporting the group in addition to her responsibilities at Bristow & Sutor. Helen played a key role in delivering, facilitating and managing the East-Midlands Roundtable event and will remain integral to these discussions as they evolve over time and roll out in other regions.
Building on existing foundations
Impartial debt advice is something that our Enforcement Agents signpost people to daily and these Roundtable discussions are the latest way Bristow & Sutor is looking to achieve success through collaborative approaches. It remains imperative that we ensure the advice received by debtors, especially those who are vulnerable, is accurate and helpful towards improving their circumstances long term. Poverty and low income will always be factors tied to enforcement services and whilst recent developments such as Breathing Space appear to foster more connections between debt advice and Local Authorities, there is still improvements that can be made and these discussions help towards aligned thinking.
Unfortunately, some people are still advised to ignore correspondence from EAs as a way of making issues disappear, despite this being the worst thing that someone can do. By continuing to promote increased communication and joint involvement from all related industry services, we will help to eradicate potentially damaging myths and ensure people in problem debt achieve a consistent and universal level of support.
Bristow & Sutor remain fully committed to ensuring the positive outcomes of engagement are shared and understood. We hope that by encouraging open channels of communication we will continue to see the benefits of being cool, calm and collected.