We always try to make sure our customer partners support customers wherever and however they can, but we have a number of staff who sometimes go above and beyond what even we expect of them.
Take Customer Partner Chris Garlick. Chris’s role means working closely with our customers to not only help them manage the everyday aspects of their home and their tenancy, but also to help them in times of need.
Some customers may, at times, need more help than others but, with the rising cost of living, and the ever increasing balancing act needed to afford the basic things often we often take for granted, requests for help are on the rise and coming from a much wider range of customers.
We have a dedicated income support team to help customers in financial difficulty, offering such support as signposting to various agencies and charities, with budgeting tools and prioritising household bills, and with checking benefit entitlements. Sometimes however it’s our customer partners like Chris who see the day-to-day the struggles people are facing, who may be too proud or too embarrassed to ask for help.
This set Chris thinking about what he could do. In 2019, he spent £100 of his own money on food and sanitary products to make up parcels for elderly residents at one of Accent’s nearby independent living schemes.
Realising that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg, Chris set out to raise more. In 2020, he raised £200 which funded eight food parcels and, in 2021, he raised over £600 and personally delivered 25 food parcels to local customers. These customers included people who had lost someone through COVID or who were struggling financially.
In 2022 so far, Chris has raised £925. £300 of this went to Peterborough Soup Kitchen, and he made up and delivered another £250 worth of food parcels for households in need for Christmas. Chris is also using the funds to offer customers a gas or electricity top up instead of a food parcel, whichever helps the customer most at that time.
“It’s a difficult time for so many people right now” says Chris “and it is probably only going to get worse. The cost of living is impacting on so many households across the country and things needed for everyday essential living, like food and heating, have now become a struggle to afford. At Accent, we see this only too clearly and we work across all our areas of operation to provide as much support as we can to customers in need. Sometimes a lot of support is needed, sometimes only a little to get through a particularly difficult time, but we are here for any of our customers who need us.”
Speaking of Chris, a trustee of Peterborough Soup Kitchen said “Everyone who helps us is a volunteer, nobody is paid, and we rely totally on the generosity and goodwill of individuals, groups and local companies. This is where Chris comes in. Chris contacted us and arranged to deliver a donation. He had previously checked our website to ascertain what products we would really like. He called in one morning with a fantastic donation of products that we could easily use. Without people like Chris, we could not operate.”