Gillian Harrison and the Customer Service face to face team

Thank you Gillian and the Customer Service team

Gillian Harrison and the Customer Service face to face team have carried on providing support and guidance during a time of crisis

The Customer Service team at South Tyneside Council is managed by Gillian Harrison and every day Gillian and the team help residents in the Borough with their queries and help them get the relevant support and information they need.

Their normal day to day tasks include responding to customer enquiries and offering a face-to-face point of contact for residents in need.

When the lockdown commenced, Gillian and her team‘s role became more crucial than ever with so much uncertainty surrounding regular services. Not only that, but new services were added to support residents in a time of crisis; the hardship fund, the COVID-19 support hub and the team have often rang third party providers i.e. energy suppliers etc to help the vulnerable who had no means of contact.

However Gillian insists that nothing has changed for her and the team who continue to answer queries with a smile on their face despite the current COVID-19 situation.

“With the outbreak of the virus it has been an emotional and difficult time for all of us, however we are here to support the public who call South Tyneside their home and it has never been more important than it is now,” said Gillian, Customer Services Team Manager.

“At the beginning of the lockdown the residents were concerned about how they were going to pay their bills due to the financial changes and were looking for guidance. And others were simply just lonely and coming in to the service centre was a relief for them.”

Working in the Customer Service team often means taking queries from vulnerable people who may be experiencing financial difficulties or may be struggling with their mental health.

“We had one lady in recently who had no money which meant she wasn‘t able to purchase food. Her mental health deteriorated as a result and she threatened to take her own life. However, we managed to talk her down and followed procedures from the crisis team. We then were able to put her in touch with the relevant teams who could offer her support such as the hardship team who provided the assistance she required.”

The Mayor of South Tyneside Councillor Norman Dick, said: “On behalf of the people of South Tyneside, The Mayoress and I would like to convey our gratitude to you for proudly stepping up to help residents who are vulnerable and in need of our support.

“Customer Service is a key role especially when someone finds themselves in need of support. The team is a fantastic ambassador for the Council and as the Borough‘s First Citizen, I would like to say a huge personal thank you for being part of our community and for helping us address this challenge in an extremely positive way. We are extremely #proud.”