How we're keeping everyone safe...
To our clients,
Since we first began responding and adapting to COVID‑19 in March, Debt Free South West and our partners have let safety drive our decision‑making: safety of our staff, safety of our clients and safety of our communities.
That has meant being there for our clients as they depend on our advice in new ways; to stay connected as we have stayed apart by offering advice via telephone and email, and it meant taking the unprecedented step to close all of our advice centres across the South West to protect the health and well‑being of our clients and teams.
During the summer, some of our advice centres had been able to open their doors to our clients again.
However, as we approach the second national lockdown on 5 November until 2 December, we have had to take the decision to close our advice centres again to protect our teams and clients. We will continue to offer advice by telephone and email.
Shortly, we will be offering more ways for our clients to access the service. This will include Webchat, text message, WhatsApp and video calling. These services will make advice more accessible than before and will be with us even after the end of lockdown.
We wanted to share a bit about how we’re carrying forward our commitment to safety: how it’s informing our decision‑making, the significant steps we’re taking to keep everyone who visits one of our centres safe, and the ways in which our centres will look a little different.
Our commitment remains to only move forward with a reopening, after the second national lockdown, once we’re confident we can safely return to serving clients from our advice centres. We look at every available piece of data — including local cases, near and long‑term trends, and guidance from local health officials. These are not decisions we rush into — and an advice centre opening in no way means that we won't take the preventative step of closing it again should local conditions warrant.
When an advice centre in your area does take this step to reopen — which you can check up on using the Find an Advice Centre search tool — you’ll find the same helpful, dedicated teams that were there before we closed, but things may look and feel a little different. For one thing, you'll find yourself with plenty of space.
In every centre, we're focused on limiting occupancy and giving everybody lots of room, and renewing our focus on one‑on‑one personalised service.
We’re also taking some additional steps in most places. Face masks will be required for all of our teams and clients, and we will provide them to clients who don’t bring their own. Temperature checks will be conducted at the door, and posted health questions will screen for those with symptoms — like cough or fever — or who have had recent exposure to someone infected with COVID‑19. Throughout the day, we're conducting enhanced deep cleanings that place special emphasis on all surfaces and highly trafficked areas.
We’ve also taken this time to consider how we can serve our customers’ needs even more effectively, whether in one of our centres or digitally online.
The response to COVID‑19 is still ongoing, and we recognise that the road back will have its twists and turns. But whatever challenges lie ahead, COVID‑19 has only reinforced our faith in people — in our teams, in our clients and in our communities. Down the road, when we reflect on COVID‑19, we should always remember how so many people around the world put the wellbeing of others at the center of their daily lives. At Debt Free South West, we plan to carry those values forward, and we will always put the health and safety of our clients and teams above all else.
Thank you for all you’re doing to support the COVID‑19 response — whether that’s volunteering, donating, sharing gratitude for our key workers, or maintaining social distance to protect the health of our communities.
Stay well, stay safe, and we hope to see you soon.
Drew Huskisson | Project Manager, Debt Free South West
How to access our advice
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I’ve heard that some Advice Centres near me are now open. How do I know which centres I can visit?
A: Some of our Advice Centres are now open. Please check our website for the latest on centre re-openings and operating hours.
Q: If I am coming to one of your Advice Centres, can I come with someone?
A: We prefer if you come alone but if you need support please ensure it is safe to do so
Q: Will I have to queue?
A: At our Advice Centres that have reopened you may experience short waiting times before being allowed to enter the store. To maintain social distancing, we are limiting centre occupancy and giving everyone lots of room.
Q: Will I have to wear a mask when I visit the Advice Centre?
A: Yes. Face masks will be required for all of our teams and clients while visiting and we will provide them to clients who don’t bring their own. N95 masks with valves and masks that do not cover your nose and extend below your chin— such as bandanas, are not permitted at our Advice Centres. Replacement masks will be provided as needed.
Q: What does contactless temperature check mean?
A: Before you enter an Advice Centre, we will take your temperature using a thermometer that does not touch the skin to ensure that it measures below 37.5° C (99.5° F). No data from this procedure will be recorded. Prior to your visit, please ask yourself the following health-related questions: Do I currently have a fever, chills, muscle or body aches? Do I currently have a cough or am I experiencing any respiratory issues? Do I have a headache, sore throat, runny nose or congestion? Am I experiencing any nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea? Have I been in contact with any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the last 14 days? If you answered YES to any of these please visit at a later date.
Q: What protocols are you following to keep Advice Centres clean?
A: Throughout the day, we’re conducting enhanced deep cleanings that place special emphasis on all surfaces and highly trafficked areas.