The second in our series of blog posts to mark the anniversary of the first lockdown, our Chief Executive Anna Pangbourne talks about how a flexible team structure meant we could help more families during the pandemic.

As we are now easing out of lockdown, we continue to reflect on the changes the last year have brought to the charity.  As soon as lockdown started, we saw significantly higher requests for our grants.

Alongside the nation our team had to quickly get to grips with new terms including furlough, Self Employment Income Support Scheme and the new Universal Credit rules. The speed at which the situation development called for regular team chats and brainstorming over how we would evolve to meet the huge demand now placed on our services.

What many people perhaps don’t know is that we are a team of just 7 employees, a mix of permanent and part-time working across all functions of the charity. In the early days of April 2020, all team members who could, flexed their roles around where the demand was greatest, from answering initial enquiries, to processing applications and getting funding to families in need.

New working processes were created, to allow our previously offline services, such as postal application forms and document return, moved online to email. Meanwhile, working days were split between a team members core function and answering enquiries from families in the midst of crisis.

Flexibility during peak demand

Working in this way allowed us to scale up and scale down resources when needed and meant the families we support received a consistent and efficient services, when they needed it most. I am so proud of the way the team adapted to this change and am delighted with the positive responses we received from families who really appreciated the smooth service they received.

It’s also left us with an important framework, to use in times of peak and sudden need and was used most recently when Arcadia announced store closures and team members started reaching out for help.

I have always been proud of our teams dynamic energy, but this past year has really shown their dedication to helping families and making our charity the best it can be. While enquiries levels have inevitably quietened, I am confident the team will rise to meet the challenge of any further bursts of demand.

Read more: Out of the office: How home working worked for our charity during the pandemic.