The Coronavirus pandemic has left many people with reduced income. If you’re struggling to pay your essential bills and your home may be at risk as a result, the Law Centre’s new Crisis Navigation service has been put in place to help. Maha Khurram, crisis navigator for Croydon, explains what the service is and the help on offer for those whose homes are at risk.
Please note that this service is currently available to residents of Croydon and Wandsworth.
What is a crisis navigator?
A crisis navigator is someone who focuses on a holistic approach to client problems. The role is literally in its name – navigating crisis. At the Law Centre, the crisis navigators work closely with our housing and money advice teams to identify clients who are in need of immediate assistance or general help if their homes are at risk.
For example, a client may have built up rent arrears due to unemployment which has been caused by ill health. This has meant they’ve been unable to pay their rent, they’re behind on their priority bills and they’re struggling to gain control over her finances. Without intervention, their rent arrears would build up putting them at risk of losing their home.
There are several things a crisis navigator would assess when analysing what kind of help can be provided. Firstly, where possible, they look to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) for clients who are struggling with rent arrears. They will also look to do grant searches – to see what help may be available. The crisis navigator would then apply for grants on the client’s behalf, helping them every step of the way.
What kind of cases do crisis navigators work on?
To qualify for our crisis navigator services you must be at risk of losing your home. For example, one recent client contacted us because she had rent arrears and then her flat had an infestation. Because she didn’t have the funds to buy new furniture, the crisis navigator helped her by applying for grants and she can use this money not only to put towards new furniture, but also to help with her rent arrears.
Another client has £10,000 in rent arrears. The crisis navigators are helping her by doing benefit checks, such as child benefits and housing benefits. These will raise her income by around £130 per week. This intervention means she can agree a repayment plan, which will prevent her from losing her home.
How are the crisis navigator different from the Law Centre’s housing and money advice teams?
The crisis navigators act in more urgent cases, working alongside the housing and money advice teams. By maximising the income for the client, the crisis navigators can help provide evidence of repayment, for example, for rent arrears. They can take the time to go through applications with clients, and break the cycle of debt that clients who are referred to the service often face. They help the client make both short-term and long-terms plans to help navigate their immediate crisis.
How can I get help from a crisis navigator? How can I refer someone I know?
You can access the service by sending a text message via WhatsApp to 07743 729833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, giving your name, postcode and a brief summary of your situation. One of our team will get back to you, normally within two working days.
You can also phone our money advice team on 020 8667 9252 or get in touch by completing our contact form and they will refer you.