From January 2020, Harrow residents can get free specialist advice on all matters related to employment rights, employability, and welfare.
Work Rights Centre, a charity dedicated to ending in-work poverty, has opened a virtual advice clinic for low income residents who struggle during the pandemic.
Every day of the week for the next six months, residents can call or email advisers to: understand employment rights, such as redundancy pay, get help with applying for new jobs, or make an application for Universal Credit.
The Work Rights Centre Harrow clinic was established in recognition of the fact that thousands of people are wrestling with the economic and social impacts of Covid-19.
As businesses have had to shutter up and many workers lost their jobs, the number of Universal Credit applications has soared. Over 16,000 Harrow residents, or 1 in every 15 people in the borough were in receipt of Universal Credit last year.
The issue of lost income is amplified by the fact that applications for Universal Credit are now made online on platforms which, by the Government’s own estimates, leave many applicants confused.
One analysis by the Department for Work and Pensions from 2018 found that almost half (46%) of applicants needed help to navigate the digital platform. In advisers’ experience, applications can take as long as 1 hour for a single person, and 2.5 hours for couples.
This becomes even harder for people for whom English is not the first language, or who live and work informally and thus struggle to evidence their costs.
Lora Tabakova from Work Rights Centre said: “Every week we hear from people who are close to breaking point. Losing your job doesn’t just hurt financial security. It hurts your mental health, your whole sense of self-esteem.
“But we take our time, we listen, and then we go to work. Sometimes this starts with issuing food vouchers for people who are in really dire straits.
“But we’ll stand by them until they have a CV, get some experience and self-confidence, so they can get back on their feet. There’s always a way.”
Residents can call 0300 4000 100 or email the Work Rights Centre clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org every Monday to Saturday from 9AM to 5PM.
All advice is free, confidential, and available in English as well as in Romanian, Bulgarian, Spanish and Russian.
The Work Rights Centre Harrow clinic was made possible by a Covid-19 grant awarded by the Harrow Giving Fund in December 2020.
In the current crisis facing everyone, it was so important for Harrow Giving to support an organisation specialising and dedicated to solving employment issues facing many Harrow Residents, who are currently breaking point.
Work Rights Centre is offering free support to Harrow Residents, not only with employment and advice around welfare but also around employability rights. Despite the isolation we all live with currently, Harrow Residents facing employment issues don’t need to fight this alone. Amanda Ashton, Voluntary Action Harrow.