Advice Portsmouth profiles Mel, a Senior Frontline Advisor with over 15 years experience.
Advice Portsmouth, which is located in Focus Point in North End, Portsmouth, has seen a huge increase in visits from locals over the past year. This is due to multiple factors. Like:
- the cost-of-living crisis
- interest rates increase
- laws around renting
- cost of basic foods
- mental health
- access to financial support (universal credit, disability/pension assistance etc.)
We’re fortunate to have a team who are able to offer excellent advice and assistance in these areas. Mel is one such person. Her role as a Senior Frontline Advisor means she’s able to help with a range of things. She’s been in this field for some 15 years, and has a great deal of knowledge.
We asked Mel to take a moment to chat with us about what she does and why she does it.
An average day for Mel
To be honest, I don’t think there is an ‘average’ day working for Advice Portsmouth. Most days we are heads down and just see client after client until we close the doors in the evening. Each client is completely different and can come from any walk of life.
What does your job entail?
Throughout the day, I answer queries from advisors if they need support, as well as monitor reception to make sure everything’s okay there. I generate weekly reports to look at trends in the issues people are coming in with, which will go in the annual report. I also carry out case reviews to make any improvements to the service and ensure quality recording. As and when, I assist the manager in interviews for volunteers and staff, often phoning them for a pre-assessment. I also assist in meetings. On a Tuesday, my role is slightly different as I cover for the manager on her day off. I make sure that all advisors are in and okay.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the variety of situations I am faced with; you never know who you can help, or what with. I enjoy helping in improving people’s quality of life. For instance, sorting out benefits and/or debts, which can better people’s income.
What is the hardest thing about your job?
There are occasions where we cannot help. Sometimes a client will disengage after weeks of working with them. You know it’s because they are struggling and cannot keep going with the work. You have to let them go at their own pace, even though you know they will have to start again when they’re ready.
How do you wind down after a hard day, or cope with stress/anxiety?
Each morning, before work, I meet a colleague and we grab a coffee (and a bacon roll on Thursdays and Fridays, as a treat). We chat about our families and work, which is a good stress reliever. We also get a coffee for John, one of our volunteers, as he arrives even earlier than we do. After work, I give a colleague a lift home and we have a laugh. After I have dropped her off, I turn the volume on the radio up and sing – well, attempt to! I get home, have a cup of tea and talk to my partner.
Has your ethos or approach to helping clients changed from when you first started?
I don’t think my approach or ethos has changed at all, apart from growing in confidence over the 15 years I’ve spent in this field. I have always given clients the time they need, in order to receive help and get where they want to be.