The Importance of Good Referral Networks


Advice NI debt adviser highlights the importance of having good referral networks in providing the best possible service to clients.
In my role as a debt adviser, I am very aware of the importance of having good referral networks. To be able to offer clients other services that can support them, gives me peace of mind. This is the same for those services that can refer to me for debt advice.

One recent example was a client, who was referred to me by a local Suicide Awareness Support Worker. The client came to our first interview with the Support Worker and her daughter.
 
Client was a homeowner with an outstanding mortgage and a secured loan. She had no other debts. She got into difficulty about 10 years ago with the secured loan and was taken to court by the lender. The court issued a suspended possession order and client was instructed to increase her contractual monthly payment by £183 per month. The client has maintained her increased payments for the 10 years, until last month when she was only able to pay half the agreed payment.
 
The client’s circumstances changed when her relationship breakdown, which seen her income dramatically reduce. Client wants to keep her home. She eventually confided in her Support Worker as the stress of worrying about the debt along with other personal issues was making her very vulnerable. The client became extremely upset throughout the interview.
 
With her consent, I contacted the secured loan lender to negotiate some breathing space for her and to instruct them the client was seeking further advice. I also disclosed, again with her consent, that the she was very vulnerable, which was noted on her lender account. The lender agreed that her account would be handled by a dedicated account manager to make it easier for her when contacting to make her payments and discuss any issues she is having.
 
Following this, I discussed the Housing Rights service with the client. We agreed that they were best placed to take her case forward, as they could provide representation at court if lender proceeds with legal action. Client agreed to the referral and an appointment was made.
 
This case demonstrates the importance of referral arrangements between different organisations. The Support Worker recognised the client needed specialist debt advice in order to deal with one of her issues and knew how to access this help on behalf of the client. I was able to provide some immediate intervention with the secured loan lender to relieve the pressure and give her some breathing space. In addition, I identified that a referral to Housing Rights was the best long-term solution for the client and was able to arrange an appointment and provide some key information the service to her. Together we worked together to deal with the clients issues and she felt relieved and supported. 

 
If you need debt advice you can access the service through our Freephone helpline on 0800 028 1881 or via email debt.advice@citizensadvice.org.uk.