We take a closer look at our Drop-Ins and the support they provide to our customers and the wider community.
Rural poverty is an issue that acutely affects communities across Shropshire, with recent figures showing that 27.3% of workers in the county earn under the ‘real living wage’ needed to cover their everyday needs. This is to say nothing of those struggling to find local work, a problem often exacerbated by access to computers and the internet, a lack of transport options and an underlying cycle of debt. So, what support is available to those struggling with these issues?
Our Drop-Ins operate in 11 towns right across Shropshire, helping clients tackle these often interlinked problems. Crucially, Drop-Ins are open to new clients from all backgrounds and circumstances – South Shropshire Housing Association (SSHA) and Meres and Mosses Housing Association (MMHA) tenants, tenants from other social landlords, private tenants, homeless and friends/relatives enquiring on behalf of someone they care for.
SSHA and MMHA colleagues are on hand to assist with issues surrounding housing and the benefit systems, including guiding Universal Credit claimants through their initial claim. Clients with limited access to the internet or the relevant computer skills can be signposted to local IT resources, such as libraries or community centres.
While widely reported national statistics put the UK’s unemployment at a 44-year low, the reality for many in rural communities can be very different indeed. Drop-Ins can offer clients this practical help, including assistance with job searches or writing a CV. Of course, problems with finding work are often only one symptom of deeper underlying issues and this where the partnership work we do with other organisations comes in.
Mark Timerick, Tenancy Management Officer, helps to coordinate our Drop-In at the Charter Court Independent Living Centre in Market Drayton. ‘Drayton Wednesdays’ brings together multiple agencies to create a more comprehensive support solution. Mental health and dependency issues are often a factor behind long-term unemployment and problems managing debt, and so Shropshire Council’s Mental Health Social Care team are on hand to dispense advice and signpost clients towards the help they need. CAP Debt Help also attends to assist clients with practical ways to handle financial matters, while the National Career Service offer their expertise in the jobs market.
Mark explains more:
“Bringing these different organisations together really highlights how many issues facing our rural communities can often be interlinked. For example, the underlying cause of a client struggling to pay their rent may actually be a substance misuse issue or difficulties relating to their mental health. Simply paying that week’s rent alone would not help these individuals in the long-term.”
More information about our Drop-In service here