September 27, 2021

SME Business News

Small Business News UK

Virtual hub is installed in Shirley Library to allow more people to access Citizen’s Advice

FOLLOWING the success of its first installation, a scheme has been introduced at a second location.

A service, which improves the accessibility of the Citizen’s Advice Service was first introduced into Southampton City Library as a pilot scheme in 2020 and was made a permanent fixture in June.

Following its success so far, it is being rolled out in easily accessible locations across the region, with the first at Shirley Library.

It is a single-person hub, built inside the library, which allows one person at a time to use a computer that has an easy-to-use video conferencing platform, Vectera, installed, allowing them talk to a member of the service who is working from home.

The hub was installed by IT firm, Allteks, which was engaged to provide Citizen’s Advice with technology to allow people who were struggling with IT issues or who did not have access to technology at home to use the service virtually.

It was initially set up during lockdown to allow people to use the service in a Covid-safe way but has since proved that its benefits go beyond allowing staff to work from home.

Allteks CEO, Don Iro said: ‘The rapidly-extending initiative has proved that it brings so many benefits and a new way of working, which will benefit the service in a positive way.

‘It makes advice much more accessible to more people, meaning more people are becoming positively impacted by the service. One of the ways it does this is by being more geographically accessible, with bus routes nearby to all of the current and planned locations. It allows workers to work more efficiently, from wherever in the world they may be, so is not affected by any staff being pinged as they are able to work from home. Because the staff are able to work from home, it of course means that there is a positive environmental impact, too, as less cars are on the roads and less people have to travel – helping businesses and individuals lower their carbon footprints.’

The Right Worshipful Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Alex Houghton, officially cut the ribbon to the new hub in Shirley Library, at an opening ceremony on Thursday, September 9.

Cabinet Member for Communities, Culture and Leisure at Southampton City Council and councillor for Shirley, Cllr Satvir Kaur said: ‘It’s going to be incredibly important for Shirley. Just a stone’s throw away is Shirley estate, where I go door knocking every weekend and some of the stories I hear are heartbreaking, so there’s more social need in the city than ever and the need for advice is only increasing and making it more accessible is incredibly invaluable, not only for Shirley but the whole city and I really hope this can be rolled out across the whole city.’