Almost double the number of general advice clients prompts extension of late night advice service
UK horticulture trade charity Perennial saw a further increase in the number of people helped by its services last year, continuing a general rising trend in client numbers since 2003. The biggest increase was seen in the number of people using the ‘advice only’ service, delivered by caseworkers and debt advisers usually by telephone. The almost 100% increase has prompted the charity to extend its monthly late night telephone advice service to weekly. From February 2017 trained caseworkers and debt advisers will be available to speak to by telephone every Wednesday from 12:00 noon – 8:30pm. Speaking about the decision to extend the service, Sheila Thomson, Director of Services at Perennial, says:
“The majority of our clients (70%) are of working age and we know it can be difficult for many to contact us during working hours. We introduced the monthly late advice service to ensure we give everyone the chance to speak to us at a time convenient to them. (The usual opening hours are 8.30am – 5.00pm We expect our extended weekly telephone advice service to be well-used and that numbers of clients using this ‘lighter’ version of Perennial’s full service will significantly rise again in 2017.”
Perennial’s specialist debt advice service also saw a significant increase in client numbers in 2016 (client numbers increased by 22.5% year on year) suggesting that this area is a growing concern for UK horticulturists.
A new series of short films, which feature Perennial clients talking about how they have been supported by the charity, help explain the impact that Perennial can have on someone’s life. Watch Anthony’s story here:
HOW PERENNIAL HELPS:
In 2016, Perennial assisted its clients in accessing over £1.5million in direct financial help.
- Over £420,000 in direct financial aid from Perennial. The majority of these funds were used for day-to-day living grants and debt clearance.
- Nearly £1.04million of statutory benefits (including backdated benefits owed) that caseworkers assisted clients in claiming
- Over £33,000 in grants and funds from other sources
- And a further £2,500 gained by the Debt Advice Team from other sources such as refunds from miss-sold PPI
In addition, Perennial negotiated £91,000 of debt write offs for clients in 2016.
In 2016 new clients made up approximately a third of all clients who received Perennial’s full service with a higher percentage of new clients in the South of England compared to the North of England and Scotland. News of Perennial’s services continues to spread across the UK horticulture industry and this increased awareness is no doubt contributing to increased client numbers.
Perennial has seen a year-on-year increase in the number of people using its specialist debt advice service since its launch in 2007. A total of 375 people were helped last year – over a quarter of all those helped by Perennial needed help with debt. The service helped write off over £91,000 of debt and secured additional financial help of over £2,500 for clients, many of whom had fallen into debt due to injury at work, long-term illness or unexpected unemployment due to redundancy.
Over £63,000 was made available through training grants, placements and funding for short courses for horticultural students through Perennial’s Lironi Training Fund in 2016.
For more information about the range of free and confidential services Perennial offers its clients, please visit www.perennial.org.uk/help
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Perennial offers free, confidential advice and support to everyone working in or retired from horticulture and their families, including gardeners, landscapers, nursery and garden centre staff, parks and grounds care staff and tree surgeons. People turn to Perennial for financial and emotional help in times of need because of disability, sickness, poverty, financial hardship and old age – although increasingly younger people are seeking their assistance. Many individuals describe the services Perennial offers as a ‘lifeline’. The work of Perennial depends entirely on voluntary donations from the horticultural industry and the garden-loving public.