Working in partnership to support customers in vulnerable circumstances

A post by Kate Robbins – Head of Customer Policy

On 9 May 2019 we held our first shared partnership event with Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN).

We have been working in partnership with SSEN since May 2016 to support our customers in vulnerable circumstances.

Customers are our priority, and we are committed to providing extra support and help when and where it is most needed.

We know that anyone can find themselves vulnerable at any time maybe due to illness, unemployment or simply a change in circumstances such as a bereavement or relationship break-up. This can have short or long term effects.

Through our partnership we have shared best practice, lobbied for change and worked collaboratively to raise awareness and increase uptake of our support schemes such as Priority Services.

This event brought together new potential partners from a range of organisations across Wiltshire and Dorset where SSEN and Wessex Water have shared customers. On the day 50 organisations attended including local authorities; support services; health organisations; and charities.

Room
Giving out booklets

The aim of the day was to provide an overview of our approach to supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances, raising awareness of Priority Services and identifying opportunities to work with partners to support mutual customers.

 We had presentations from both companies. We also had presentations from existing partners showcasing examples of where they have been able to support customers and sign them up to Priority Services, and provide much more holistic support.

Organisations broke into working groups for discussions following the presentations thinking about ways they could add value to their clients and their organisations through Priority Services, how they could make Priority Services part of their day to day interaction with clients, what data they could use to identify those customers who would benefit from the support, and what actions they would need to take to enable that client to register for Priority Services.

There was some great networking going on at the event which was valued by attendees.

At the end of the event all attendees completed a commitment form agreeing to next steps to form a partnership with both companies to support mutual customers.

We were really pleased that we had a full turn out, that organisations were so engaged and interactive during the day and for us the key thing was getting that commitment to work together. The event has led to partnerships with more local organisations to reach and better support those customers in our region who need us most.

We will look to have a similar event to cover the rest of our region later this year, hopefully in partnership with Bristol Water and Western Power Distribution, the energy distributor in Somerset, BANES and Bristol areas.

What is Priority Services? 

Priority Services provides tailored help for people who need it. For example, providing bills and information in alternative formats, a password scheme for visits and ensuring customers always have access to water during unplanned interruptions such as a burst main.

If you’re one of our customers and have particular requirements due to your age, ill health, a disability, mental illness or additional needs, you can register for Priority Services so that we can take this into account.

Find out more about our Priority Services as well as how to register here.

Register leaflet

Do you want to work with us?

Our partners work with us in many ways including:

  • raising awareness of our many affordability schemes and increasing uptake
  • providing customers with expert and independent debt advice, benefits checks and income maximisation
  • alerting people to Priority Services and the extra care we can offer.

If you are interested in becoming a partner please visit PartnerHub or email communitypartners@wessexwater.co.uk