Charis Newsletter – October 2021
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The Charis newsletter is sent to our Charis community to update everyone on what is going on. From meeting the team to new services, this offers our readers an up to date view on all things Charis.
In this months newsletter, we focus on areas of development and future prospects for the Charis Shop.
Over the winter months Charis have been working hard to support you with the distribution of Energy Redress and Winter Support Funding along side other key initiatives that your organisation has in place to make sure that your funds reach those members of your community who need it the most.
As we move towards the new financial year and the increases in the cost of living continues to have an impact, we want to make sure that the products and services we offer meet your requirements in being able to support your customers. This newsletter introduces you to our latest Partner Survey, having your input is key and talks about some future developments that we have in the pipeline we hope you find it useful.
The Charis Shop continues to grow and develop, and we are always looking at ways in which we can improve to ensure the best possible experience for all our partners. Early last year, we released our Charis Partner Survey from which we received feedback that we were able to take and use to implement some changes in delivery or products. During 2021 you may have noticed some of these which came to fruition.
We would now like to repeat this exercise. In the coming weeks, we will send out a survey to all Shop Users and we would appreciate if you could take the time to provide your feedback and suggestions. Please do get involved and complete the survey.
Whether you have called to speak with the Shop team, Sue and Jodie, for any queries you may have surrounding the shop (email@example.com or 01733 421033), or have recently spoken with our new lead generation executive, Alana, about your Shop funding or new registration enquiries (01733 421042), we have been listening.
We are at the pilot stages of two new exciting developments which will help you support your customers better. Thank you to our partners who are working with us on the trial. Following successful completion, we anticipate these initiatives will be rolled out to all of our partners in the coming months. We will keep you informed of progress via your local Administrators.
For several months, we have been working very closely with PayPoint to create an integrated approach for Energy and Cash vouchers to enable more information to be available to you. Whilst you won’t see any changes in how you buy vouchers or how your customers receive them, your local Administrator will, via the reporting tools, be able to view the real time status of vouchers. When a voucher is redeemed, the details of the store who processed the voucher as well as the time and date will show on your transactions report. This will enable you to not only check the real time status of a voucher but will allow you to build up a list of local stores who you know can redeem vouchers without any issues, and you may wish to build up a relationship with those stores.
As the cost of utilities in general continue to rise, there will become a need for you to be able to offer support to those who may not be on pre-payment meters. We’re sure that you are now seeing customers coming to you for help who are on Credit Meters or need help with other utilities outside of gas and electricity. This is an area which we have been focussing on for some time to be able to find a solution to enable you to help people in different ways.
In conjunction with The Post Office, we have created a generic Utility Voucher in values of £28 and £49. Once the voucher is provided to the customer, they take this to their nearest Post Office along with a gas, electricity or water bill and the monies will be paid directly to their account, or it can be used to top up a pre-payment card. If the customer does not have a bill or pre-payment card, the voucher can be exchanged for Cash instead. Again, we will keep you informed when the pilot scheme has finished via your local Administrator and the product will then be available to those who wish to access it.
Since the Charis Shop first started back in 2017, the admin charge for vouchers has stayed the same at £3.00 plus VAT. Over the years, although PayPoint and The Post Office have increased the costs they charge to Charis for each voucher bought and the services they provide, we have absorbed these costs so as not to pass them on to our partners as we understand that funding and budgets should be used as far as possible to support your customers. As with other businesses we are also affected by increases in recent costs so we have taken the difficult decision to increase our fee by a small amount. From 1st April 2022, the Shop admin fee for vouchers with a value of £100 or less will be £3.50 plus VAT.