Advice network speeds up referral times

Advice giving agencies are seeing a dramatic cut to referral times thanks to a new online support network.

The Advice Referral Centre (ARC) connects charities and agencies working across the Wigan Borough to ensure they can quickly refer their clients to the most appropriate service.

Set up by Wigan Advice Network Development (WAND) in July, the online portal is helping to cut referral times for more than 30 organisations signed up so far.

Wigan Housing Solutions – a community organisation that lets and manages properties owned by private landlords and the council for social rent to people facing homelessness – was among the first agencies to sign up to the service.

Louise Atherton, Operations Manager at Wigan Housing Solutions, said: “Signing up to the ARC has helped us massively on the path to creating a seamless service between ourselves and charities and agencies across the community.

“Identifying people who need to be housed is always a struggle in terms of time and resources. But as a member of the ARC, we can now receive referrals quicker and reach even more organisations – meaning we are now better placed to ensure people facing homelessness can be provided with a home.”

Alongside Wigan Housing Solutions, the ARC is supporting agencies and GP practices signed up to its services.

The ARC is of particular use to health practitioners. A recent report from the Low Commission and the Advice Services Alliance noted that access to support and information saves 15 percent of GPs’ time – allowing them to focus on patient’s medical and physical welfare and leading to fewer repeat appointments and prescriptions.

Users access the ARC by logging into the WAND website, where they can complete a simple referral form which is dealt with by Citizens Advice – who then either deal with the issue or make an appropriate referral into another agency or agencies within the Wigan Advice Network.

Rob Ramwell, Project Manager at the Wigan Advice Network Development project, said: “The Advice Referral Centre is designed to connect people facing an issue with the help they need at a click of a button.

“With many charities facing great pressures on their time, the ARC helps to speed up the referral process, and allows organisations to focus on their core services while ensuring people receive expert advice on a wide range of issues.”