Fedcap Scotland, a partner of StartScotland delivers the Fair Start Scotland service in the South West of Scotland, supporting unemployed people with complex barriers back towards the labour market.
People supported include lone parents, people from ethnic minority backgrounds, over 50s, people with convictions and people with learning disabilities – people identified as being the hardest hit in the pandemic.
But even before the nationwide lockdowns were announced, the team wanted to ensure this vulnerable group of people were not left behind. Three weeks before the first lockdown, an action plan was developed by local managers to transition from face-to-face interventions to remote engagement and ensuring the quality of delivery was not impacted or compromised.
A decision was made early on to move to digital delivery. But despite some people being able to access the service, some didn’t have the equipment or knowhow to do so.
The team acted quickly to provide the relevant technology, training and support to help customers in their hour of need.
As well as continuing with support to find work, many customers were shielding, self-isolating or felt anxious about the onset of the pandemic, so personal advisers were on hand to ensure they were given the support they needed through regular welfare checks.
For many customers, the contact with Fedcap became their only form of communication with the outside world, resulting in many referrals and signposting to organisations like foodbanks, energy providers and for financial support.
As a result of early planning, there was no gap in service and customers remained in contact throughout. Without this service, many people would have fallen into further hardship.
What’s more, the Scottish Government recognised this great delivery and chose Fedcap to deliver more of the service in another location when a provider stepped away from the contract – again with no gap in service for customers. They also adapted the Fair Start Scotland contract to allow Fedcap to support people who have been made redundant as a result of the pandemic, allowing the team to quickly react to support people.
And with a new level of insight into customers’ lives, the Fedcap team decided to swap the tradition of Secret Santa with buying 150 selection boxes and pyjamas to be distributed through charities to local families who had been struggling during the pandemic.