New support centres created in Calderdale but at the cost of Customer First closure
Calderdale Council is introducing some new face-to-face customer support and housing services – but its main Customer First centre in Halifax will remain closed.
Instead customer service support has been introduced at Halifax Central Library for those who need help with online applications and other simple service enquiries.
This will extend to Todmorden Library later this month, with other hub libraries offering support by appointment as demand requires, says the council.
The Customer First office at Horton Street in Halifax which closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic will remain closed to customers and staff, with its teams still working remotely.
Recognising there are some services where people may be disadvantaged by the absence of face-to-face arrangements, such as those with multiple and complex needs who are seeking support with housing issues, the council has opened Calderdale Housing Support at No. 42 Market Street, in Halifax town centre.
This housing and homelessness prevention service provides face-to-face support to people who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness and is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Providing housing support and addressing homelessness are longstanding priorities for the council with the ‘Burnt Bridges?’ review of the tragic deaths of five men who lived on the streets of Halifax aiming to identify action that could be taken to reduce the chance of similar things happening again – this is one response.
Coun Jenny Lynn (Lab, Park), Cabinet member for Public Services and Communities, said although the council’s significant shift last year to digital services, including contact by telephone, via the council’s website or by live chat, was initially driven by COVID-19 restrictions, it found some services work better this way, are welcomed by customers, save money and help tackle the climate emergency.
“We now know we can provide an improved service without needing to operate from Customer First offices, but we do offer the option of face-to-face contact where necessary through our hub libraries.
“We understand that some people rely on face-to-face services, and we are taking this into account when reshaping the role of the Future Council as part of our focus on protecting the most vulnerable people.
“Opening the new Calderdale Housing Support facility in Halifax town centre is a really positive step forward in our commitment to reducing inequalities and supporting homeless people to live longer and fuller lives,” she said.
The council says the pandemic has brought both challenges and some opportunities to transform the way it meets people’s needs, aiming to ensure services are fit for purpose and able to protect the vulnerable while also helping save money.