The Money Advice Trust has launched a new face-to-face training course designed to help creditor staff to better support customers affected by gambling, alcohol and substance addictions.  The course has been developed in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, and can be tailored to creditor organisations across a range of sectors.

The course has been developed by the Trust’s vulnerability lead Chris Fitch, who co-authored the University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre’s recent 21 steps research into the experiences of collections staff with customers in vulnerable circumstances.

The research found that one in four frontline collections staff find addictions either ‘very difficult’ or ‘difficult’ to discuss with customers – more than any other kind of vulnerable situation.  Eight percent of frontline staff and 28 percent of specialist staff said they encounter customers with an addiction ‘every day’ or ‘most days’.

The Trust’s new face-to-face course aims to equip staff to identify, understand and support customers who are experiencing an addiction.  The charity plans to complement this course with a new e-learning option in the coming months.

Lyndsey Humphries, head of training and consultancy at the Money Advice Trust, said “We are pleased to be expanding the range of courses the Trust is able to offer to creditors looking to improve support for customers in vulnerable circumstances.  Addictions joins our face-to-face and e-learning courses on vulnerability, mental health and serious illness, and has been developed in response to a growing demand for in-depth training on this subject.  We look forward to rolling out this training across the industry, and to developing an e-learning option in the coming months.”

The Trust’s vulnerability lead Chris Fitch, who has blogged about the new course at Thoughts at the Trust, said “I have been talking to creditors about customers in vulnerable circumstances for years – and the good news is that there has never been a greater focus on these customers than there is in the industry at the moment.  This focus is also widening all the time, to the full range of vulnerable situations that collections and other staff find themselves presented with.”