Bring the shop back to the people of Walsall in the current crisis ‘immediately’.

It is feared that vulnerable people are deprived of vital support because they cannot get help directly from the Walsall Council. A petition has been filed urging the authority to reopen the First Stop Shop, which has been closed since the first Quad Lockdown in March 2020, and has attracted dozens of signatures.

Prior to the closure, residents were able to visit the city center to speak directly to staff if they had problems with areas such as council taxes and housing. Despite easing restrictions, First Stop Shop is closed and people are being instructed to access online services faster, leaving people without the help they need in times of crisis.

Walsall Council said it is improving its website and digital services, while those with no computer access will be provided assistance at Borough Libraries. The petition, filed by Parveen Rehman, states: “As the cost of life crisis deepens, we urge Walsall Council to take immediate steps to reopen the First Stop Shop with personal advice so that people can Sign post can be used to help with the urgent need. ”

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Among the signatories, Dana O’Connor said: “Many people find it difficult to talk on the telephone and / or have no online access at all. Please reopen the Walsall Council One Stop Shop. About Quaid I have a lot of awareness and it’s very simple. Take steps to protect staff. “

Alan Harrison added: “Face-to-face service availability is important in boroughs like Walsall. Many people do not have access to computers or skills.

Waheed Rasib, councilor of Padak ward, after contacting the residents, demanded the authority to reopen the service. He said: “I have received calls from residents who are worried that the first stop shop is closed and want it to reopen.

“People are asking us why the Civic Center is closed. They say they need to open it because not everyone is equipped with the latest technology. There are old pensioners who don’t have computers or still have to use them. Don’t believe about it.

“A few weeks ago, an OAP in my ward called me to go to him and help him renew his disability badge because he didn’t know how to do it. Take your computer and do it. People go somewhere in the town center so they can get the help they need. “

Shaz Akhtar of Walsall United Community Branch, who supported the petition, said: “The First Stop Shop is an important service for residents to inquire about the services available in face-to-face contact. Inquiries and service without the need for referrals. Requests possible.

Walsall Council. Darwall Street, Walsall.
(Photo: Google Street View.)

“Even though support is moving online, many people in Walsall do not have access to go online for help. With rising housing costs, this service is important for residents to go and discover that they are having difficulty. What services are available to help them from time to time.

“We hope the council will review this and provide this important service to a diverse community. The local council needs to move forward and help.”

Councilor Yard Ali, a customer engagement portfolio holder at Walsall Council, said: “During 2021, the council asked residents across the borough how they would access access to advice and services after their experience with COD-19 epidemics and Where to prioritize.This feedback was used to develop a new customer experience strategy, which was approved by the Cabinet in December 2021.

“In response to this response, the Council has already begun to make significant investments in improving the quality of our website, online services and telephone support. Some vulnerable, elderly, and digitally excluded residents will continue. Front-line support is needed on a face-to-face basis.

As a result, the Walsall Library on Litchfield Street offers first-line advice, digital assistance and free Wi-Fi (just across the street from the former First Stop Shop and at the front door of the town hall). The process of providing first-line support and digital assistance to Walsall, Community Hubs and six other trusted libraries in other trusted locations as part of.

“We are in the process of developing plans to modernize the Civic Center and as part of that we plan to introduce a reception space in the building, which will help sign up the available support.” The only reason for the change in perspective is the location of the town center, where the majority of our vulnerable and elderly residents have asked for advice near their homes to reduce travel time and transportation costs. And we will prioritize access to help. “

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