Brighton and Hove Skype advice service judged a success
The use of webcams by advice agencies to advise clients has been given a thumbs-up by legal services consultant Vicky Ling, after evaluating a pilot project run in Brighton and Hove.
Speaking to LAG about the webcam advice and online booking pilot, Ling said that not-for-profit advice centres need to ‘respond to the challenge and help people access services digitally’. The project Advice Brighton and Hove successfully uses Skype to arrange appointments and give advice to clients on housing issues.
According to Ling’s evaluation of the service (Advice Brighton and Hove: Webcam and Online Booking Pilot – Evaluation Report, 19 November 2015), advisers are very positive about the use of Skype to contact clients. She believes the sector often wrongly assumes that people are digitally excluded when they are not. ‘Eastern European clients are used to using Skype to ring home,’ she explained, and argued that they and other clients have become adept at finding free wifi to use on their mobile phones.
The advice provided to clients in Brighton and Hove is supervised by a solicitor in an agency with a specialist quality mark, meaning the service is of a high standard, and they receive a letter confirming the advice they were given, something that is not standard practice in other voluntary advice agencies. Ling conceded that it was not possible to speak to many clients to get their feedback on the service, but is convinced that, for most people, advice provided through a webcam will lead to successful outcomes.
The Brighton and Hove webcam and online booking pilot was funded from the Big Lottery Advice Services Transition Fund. Ling’s report also provides guidance on establishing and running webcam services.