In this weeks Leading the Way blog, Helen Addis, Bristow & Sutor Social Responsibility and Customer Welfare Manager, explains how elements of the recent Debt Management Vulnerability Toolkit are prominently featured in ongoing enforcement training initiatives.
Over to Helen…
The UK Government recently published its new Debt Management Vulnerability Toolkit, bringing together a variety of existing tools and strategies to identify and support vulnerable customers. This resource aims to provide helpful and up to date information for all customer-facing debt collection organisations. At Bristow & Sutor, we welcome the consolidation of industry-standard practices for use by our industry. That is why we successfully collaborated with other services to ensure safety and success throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as well as showing our support for the recently announced Enforcement Conduct Authority(ECA) framework.
All of our customer-facing colleagues receive in-depth training in identifying and supporting vulnerable customers, using the tools and strategies the Government has pulled together in this toolkit. We pride ourselves on leading the way and are very pleased to see much of the training initiatives we have already rolled out internally and externally featured in some way as part of this resource, which will guide even more industry personnel towards delivering successful outcomes for their vulnerable customers.
Features and foresight
In my role at Bristow & Sutor I am responsible for ensuring we consider our clients’ customers in everything the business delivers and connecting with customer groups as well as debt advice sector representatives, increasing their understanding and building an effective network of support for anyone that may need help. Bristow & Sutor had the foresight to recognise a large part of improving outcomes relies on individuals receiving correct advice that cuts through common misconceptions. That is why a significant portion of my time has been spent devising, producing and delivering training on topics such as vulnerability to our partners and debt advice personnel. My goal in these sessions is ensuring they are well informed about what we do and the impact that different decisions can have on resolving situations and improving circumstances long-term.
Impartial debt advice is something that our Enforcement Agents signpost people to daily. This has meant that through all developments in vulnerability related approaches in recent times, such as the implementation of Breathing Space, we have remained ahead of changes and simply continued the work we are already used to undertaking. Our continued commitment to collaboration has allowed me to recently organise roundtable discussions in both the East-Midlands and North-West regions, featuring panellists of creditors and welfare teams from local councils and the debt advice sector, to discuss how the industry can improve further and make support more universal. I am proud to say I have been invited to join the Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG) as a regional committee member which will also help me foster these important conversations.
Including our own people
Beyond the clients and customers that we engage with, Bristow & Sutor also recognises the importance of supporting colleagues to manage their own wellbeing in the face of difficult and emotional conversations. Enforcement personnel are often very resilient by nature, but they are still normal human beings who can be affected by the work they undertake. Enforcement can be very rewarding but also stressful and most roles will see employees encounter potentially upsetting situations frequently. We look to combat this through continuous open conversations, the provision of a comprehensive Employee Assistance Programme and ensuring we have Mental Health First Aid trained personnel available for all staff to speak to whenever they may need to.
If you are interested in learning more about identifying and supporting vulnerable customers, including several of the techniques outlined in the toolkit, you can book one of our free training sessions by visiting the dedicated page our website.