How you and your organisation handles both the corona crisis and the financial crisis.
The Social Legal Aid is has taken measures both to protect the employees and our clients. Currently, TSLA are not operating face to face debt advice service. We have physically shot down our offices and sent all employees home to work from there. We are still supporting citizens via phone, but since most of our counselors are students, they are not allowed to debt advice without supervision.
We refer to official state websites and hotlines, the police and the clients own insurance companies for questions regarding Corona
What actions have you taken to ensure that you can continue giving debt advice?
Our counseling efforts are limited these days, since it is limited what our counselors can do from home. We still support our clients via phone regarding so-called “step 1”-questions. That is simple and easily answered question. We furthermore advice on means-to-self-help and we make sure that acute problems on so-called “step 2 and 3” are being taken care of.
Have you been able to make specific deals with the banks and other creditors in your country?
The first banks have already taken measures to help their clients, e.g. by offering arrears on installments and loans. We have not yet reached out to the banks and creditors in order to make specific deals, but it is our expectation that this will be possible further down the line.
Have you been into contact with your government, and if yes, what did they respond?
We have reached out to the government, specifically the two departments, “Socialstyrelsen” and “Civilstyrelsen” that provides the funding for our organisation. We did this already before it all escalated and everything shut down. We have not heard back from them yet. However, the Danish government are hard at work making sure everybody gets the help they need and have released multiple “help packages” for the people in need. We expect that they also take responsibility for the people opportunities to get counseling.
How are you creating awareness on the crisis at hand?
We have contacted our collaboration partners, e.g. the creditors, and told them they need to get ready to react and help us help the clients to emerge from this situation the best way possible. We are furthermore continuously updating our website and Social Media to keep our clients informed and updated on the latest news.
We are also planning to reach out to the Danish politicians in order to make them understand the severity of what is to come. Right now there is an acute need for nurses and doctors, but afterwards all the affected citizens will be in need of counseling in order to handle the new economic situation. We expect many to lose their jobs and thus having trouble paying of loans and mortgages. The politicians need to make access to debt counseling available for everybody and not just the socially vulnerable, as the requirement is now.
How do you ensure that no one is left behind?
This is a tricky one due to the current state of debt advice in Denmark, where only specific target groups can get help for free. In TSLA we are working to implement procedures, so we can help the most people regardless of where our counselors are working from.