Wai Yin Society in Manchester has been delivering the HMRC Advice and Guidance programme - run by Good Things Foundation and HMRC – to help their learners use HMRC’s online services.
- Support learners with limited English and IT skills to use HMRC services online
- Deliver digital skills and English skills to learners before or at the same time as using HMRC services
Making It Happen
- Jenny Tsang, manager of Wai Yin’s Advice Team, has led a team of dedicated staff and volunteers to deliver financial management classes and provide one-to-one sessions to learners who require support and information about HMRC services
- Jenny also encouraged all staff and volunteers to share their knowledge with colleagues across the organisation
- They built a rapport with learners – they trusted them and came back time and time again
- They encouraged learners to learn to use the services themselves instead of doing it for them
- Over 400 people supported over two years and more than 60% of these service users have increased their understanding about the service and 40% of them have more confidence to use the services online
- Provided vital support to people who are in desperate need of help, and staff and volunteers found their job meaningful and look forward to coming to work
Jenny says: “We’ve been delivering mostly one-to-one sessions as part of the HMRC Advice and Guidance programme for people who have real problems understanding their rights and responsibilities when applying for HMRC-related support such as Tax and National Insurance contribution, tax returns, tax credits etc. They come to us for assistance.
“We have a good track record of delivering general advice, IT and ESOL classes for more than ten years. Through this programme, we have been able to reach out to even more people – people who we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to reach. We have built our good reputation over many years of serving communities. Most people found out about this programme through word of mouth so advertising wasn’t such a great deal in this."
Most learners who come to seek support from Wai Yin understand or speak very little English. Some of them have never used computers and the internet. This causes them a lot of frustration they are desperately in need of assistance from someone who can speak their language and understand their needs.
Jenny says: “Because of their limited skills, it’s more than just providing information. Very often we need to ‘hold their hands’ and show them ‘step by step’ how things work.
“When language is the main problem, even something we see as a small task can be a big deal to our service users. We assist them with many new financial support applications such as child benefits, tax credit and other welfare benefits. But some people can turn up with really bad applications.
"We came across one case where a service user applied for child benefit himself without having had any help. Due to his limited English, both oral and written, he put a lot of wrong information on the application and ended up being accused of fraud. It’s hard enough to face a financial problem alone but facing an accusation like this can put a person into depression.”
The support provided by Wai Yin means a lot to learners. Without it, service users would not have a place they can feel ‘safe and secure’. The trust and rapport achieved was built up slowly between advisors and service users.
“We aim to teach; assist and support (not just do it for you). It can have an additional beneficial impact for service users as learning is also one of our targets in this programme and those with fair English can also use their skills to help others. Once trust has built up, service users often pour their hearts out to you and then you know you are really doing something right and meaningful.”
Jenny concludes: “There is so much demand for this service and we are happy to carry on delivering it. It’s enjoyable being able to help people who otherwise would have to struggle on their own. It makes my job even more worthwhile.”