St. Augustine's Centre are setting up Equals prepaid cards to save staff time and clients needing to travel.
Destitution payments are made to those who have no access to any alternative financial support due to their immigration status. (Those who are unable to access asylum support or mainstream benefits). Those in need of destitution support are identified through the advice drop-in and referred to the Senior Caseworker to make an assessment of need.
Clients would attend the centre weekly to collect either a £10 cash payment from the Centre, or a supermarket voucher which we administer on behalf of the British Red Cross. Some people would also need additional money for travel to appointments and to collect their destitution payment.
Payments continue to be given out weekly in cash or vouchers. These are either being delivered directly to clients or collected from the Centre adhering to social distancing rules. The amount given out through the British Red Cross scheme has been increased in light of the pandemic environment. We have recently signed up to Equals prepaid cards, through NACCOM, and hope to have this system up and running in the next couple of weeks.
With Government advice on limiting all but essential travel we wanted to look at alternative methods of administering destitution payments to help keep both our clients and staff safe. We looked into prepaid card options, but as a small charity the set up and outlay was far too expensive. We hoped a larger organisation would work collaboratively with the sector - and then we found out about the NACCOM offer.
We chose Equals as our treasurer had prior experience with them and they have good back office support. The product seems the simplest of the options and we thought the clients would find it the easiest to use.
Not many so far as we’re only beginning to set up. Not all the information we needed was readily available, such as how to set up generic cards. But we rang and spoke to Equals and they have answered all our questions so far.
Yes, I believe that once we have set the process up we will continue to administer destitution payments via prepaid cards. We think it will be easier for both staff and clients. The process will become more streamlined and made quicker for caseworkers to administer. We also anticipate that it will be beneficial to our clients as they will not have to travel to the centre to collect payments which will also help reduce travel associated costs.
We haven’t yet started issuing payments via prepaid cards however are very keen to learn from others to inform decision making on using this method longer-term.
An additional benefit is that the cards can be used for staff and volunteer expenses - streamlining our financial processes.
Grant funded currently by the Community Foundation for Calderdale and individual donations. We also work alongside the British Red Cross to administer their supermarket vouchers.