Struggling to pay your bills? Our Extra Care team are here to listen and support
27 May 2020
With the financial pressure that many households are under due to efforts to contain coronavirus, debt awareness is more important than ever. Hannah Owen writes about her job as one of Anglian Water’s Extra Care team members.
I’ve been in debt myself. I know what it feels like to find bills on the doormat and to hide them away somewhere and try not to think about it.
I was worried about calling the companies I owed money to, as I didn’t want someone to have a go at me and say that I needed to pay straight away. I put the problem to one-side for a long time, but when I eventually picked up the phone I discovered that there was someone there to help me, and not judge me. I found telling people about my circumstances was all I needed to do to get onto the path to sorting my situation out.
I became an Extra Care team member at Anglian Water two years ago and I love having the chance to use my personal experience to help people out when times are hard. We take calls from customers from all walks of life and in all kinds of situations.
When someone rings us, we have a chat and go through all of his or her circumstances using our Extra Care Assessment. Depending on their situation we may be able to put plans in place to make the payments more affordable. We also check they are on the best tariff for them and look at their water usage and whether giving them a water meter would reduce their bills. We can even help look at their financial situation overall by checking whether they are receiving all of the government benefits they are entitled to.
Supporting people through difficult times
The hardest part of the job is managing your own emotions when you’re supporting people in really difficult situations. I’ve helped a customer that had been suffering domestic abuse and couldn’t pay their bills because their partner was controlling their money. I was able to support them as they made a fresh start by setting up new accounts, checking their tariff, setting up affordable payments to clear the arrears and putting the person in touch with further support from Samaritans and the debt advice charity StepChange.
I’ve also helped an elderly person who couldn’t remember to pay their bills. I set up a way to help them pay that worked for them and got them onto our Priority Services Register so they will get extra support if we need to carry out work on the network that will affect their water supply.
There for you during the fight against coronavirus
Recently I have been speaking to customers who can’t work and bring in earnings because they are self-isolating or are home schooling children due to the coronavirus outbreak. I’ve also heard from people who are unable to pay using a payment card or booklet as they would normally would because they cannot leave the house. Their main concern is the uncertainty of what is to come.
If you’re in that kind of situation please don’t worry about calling us. We can help you set up different ways to pay or give you some breathing space or a payment holiday if you need it. We can also help you understand what other benefits or statutory sick pay you may be entitled to.
The thing I most enjoy about my job is helping people and the fact no two calls are ever the same. Our team are trained to give customers who find themselves in difficulty all the support they need.
We’re not here to judge. Please ring us to talk it over, because we’ll listen and we’re here to help.