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Posted on May 20, 2024

Making the shift from enforcement to empathy and understanding

When the COVID pandemic started back in 2020, none of us knew the impact it would have on businesses – and more importantly, on people. Now, over four years later, one of the key things we learned during this time is the importance of empathy and understanding.

Using this valuable lesson, we shifted our services away from enforcement. Instead, we focus on supporting those who need it most. This has not only let us build better relationships with customers, but it’s also helped us build sustainable outcomes and enabled us to gain trust in our communities.

Putting what we’ve learned into practice

Following this shift towards empathy, we’re pleased to report that no evictions for rent arrears have taken place since September 2022. This is thanks to the ongoing support given by our Tenancy Sustainment and Income Management Team.

Through their hard work, we’ve successfully maximised customer income by over £126,000. We’ve supported over 400 people with a range of tenancy related services; including budgeting, hoarding and income maximisation.

Hayley Crook, our Income Services Manager, said: “Lockdowns helped us build more trust with our customers – we became more approachable and empathetic”.

As well as supporting those who pay rent, we also supported 146 of our most vulnerable customers with food and fuel poverty over the 2023/24 financial year, as the cost-of-living crisis showed no signs of letting up.

Here are some of the changes we made:

  • We reviewed the language in letters and made it friendlier and easier to understand
  • We introduced easier ways to pay,  making payment methods more accessible for you
  • We now have more information and support services available on our website for those who want to self-serve
  • We got customer feedback from those who recently claimed Universal Credit to continuously improve your experience

Hayley continued: “There’s noticeable trust now by having a range of contact methods and a presence in our neighbourhoods”.

She added: “It’s inevitable that evictions may sometimes be required. However, they will only occur when all support has been exhausted. Being non-judgemental is so important. We’re not her to judge, we’ll always try our best to help people get back on track”.

Empathy and kindness make a ‘world of difference’

Supporting customers in maximising their income can go along way. In fact, it can be life changing. Here’s one customer’s story of how our help ensured their dad got the care him and his family needs.

“My parents live in a Calico property, and recently asked for some advice with their benefits due to my dad’s ill health and his need for more at-home care for his degenerative illness.

Calico kindly attended to give them advice and thanks to this, they were able to check eligibility and maximise his imcome. This will make a world of difference to them and will allow my step mum to pay for daily care for my dad.

We wouldn’t have known this or received any help without Calico, and my parents found her extremely friendly, kind and caring. They have asked me to pass on their sincere thanks to the Calico team.”

How we’re continuing to help

Now more than ever, our customers need our empathy and support. The ongoing cost of living crisis, welfare reform and fuel poverty are all effecting the level of support people need, with many struggling to get by day-to-day.

One example of how we’re helping customers during these difficult times is our campaign for unclaimed benefits. Calico Homes are currently working alongside Burnley Borough Council to help people receive unclaimed council tax support.

Our handy Benefits Calculator can help kick start the search for unclaimed benefits, as there are billions in unclaimed benefits.

We also made some changes to ensure it’s now more accessible than ever for customers to self-serve. This includes updates to the website, introducing the app and working with external agencies.

No matter what, our Tenancy Sustainment Team (also known as Moneywise) is also always on hand to help.

If you need any support, get in touch with the team today on 01282 686300 or email

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