As COVID restrictions ease and government financial support reduces, Dorset residents are reminded to reach out for support if they are facing difficulty.head graphic containing the words debt, bills, job, home plus for help and advice call freephone 0800 144 8848

Paying bills and debt

Specialist advisers from Dorset Citizens Advice are waiting at the end of the phone to talk through, confidentially, all the options available with people who are unable to pay their bills or who need help with debt. They can be contacted on Freephone 0800 144 8848.

The advisers can help with budgeting, repayment plans, and prioritising which bills must be paid first.

Daniel Cadisch, Chief Officer, Citizens Advice Central Dorset said: “With Government interventions coming to an end, many people may find themselves struggling financially. If you are unable to pay bills, rent or mortgage repayments, we urge you to seek help as early intervention is key.”

Housing

Residents struggling to pay their rent are urged to seek advice and support now. Dorset Council’s housing team can provide assistance at an early stage to help resolve the situation.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Housing said: “The council has a duty to prevent homelessness. We will work with you to understand your current situation and identify what steps we, and you, can do to help you stay in your current home.

“If your landlord has asked you to leave your rented property or given you a notice to quit and you are struggling to find somewhere else to live, contact us for advice and support.”

Call Dorset Council on 01305 221000 or visit dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/housing

Dorset Citizens Advice can also look at all the options available to prevent eviction. Call them on Freephone 0800 144 8848.

Employment and redundancy support

As of 1 July, the government is paying 70% of the salaries of employees on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) and employers are paying 10%. In August and September, the government will pay 60% and employers will pay 20%

If you are having difficulty getting your furlough pay, or your employer is trying to change your contract while you are furloughed, you should seek advice immediately. Dorset Citizens Advice specialist advisers can talk through all the options available to you.

Read more about the job retention scheme and support available or telephone Citizens Advice to speak to an adviser now.

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health said: “If you are struggling financially or finding things tough, please reach out for support. It’s been a difficult time for many people, but help is available and solutions can be found.

“Our colleagues at Dorset Citizens Advice are ready and waiting at the end of the phone to help you. All conversations are confidential, and they will work with you to find a way out of any immediate problems you are facing and help you plan for the longer term.”

Call Dorset Citizens Advice on Freephone 0800 144 8848  or see the range of support available at dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/reaching-out

Health and wellbeing

Although many people welcome easing in lockdown restrictions, it can also cause feelings of anxiety or stress. This may apply to people more vulnerable to the virus, and others take time to adjust to the change. If you are struggling, support is available to get you through it. Go to the health and wellbeing tab at  dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/reaching-out to see what support is available.

Accessing food

If you are struggling to afford nutritious and well-balanced food, there are schemes around Dorset that can help.

These include foodbanks, social supermarkets, community fridges and a mobile larder that are run by the community and supported by Dorset Council and Public Health Dorset. Visit dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/reaching-out and go to the ‘Access to food’ section for full details.

Free school meals

Dorset Council is working with schools to make sure families who need it (including those who receive free school meals) can receive food vouchers if they are unable to attend school.

The council will be providing a voucher for the summer holidays for eligible children and each school will be provide details of the scheme to families who qualify. Contact your child’s school to find out more.

Training and jobs

Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, there are job and training opportunities throughout Dorset.

Visit the training and jobs pages at dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/reaching-out to see the range of ideas, advice and current vacancies.

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