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6 April 2023

Advice NI

Creating the infrastructure to deliver urgent training needed at times of crisis for a charity that helps vulnerable people when they are facing difficult circumstances.

Training during troubled times

Advice NI is a charity that supports a network of organisations offering free, independent advice on topics such as benefits, debt, housing and immigration in communities across Northern Ireland. It also offers independent advice on similar issues directly to members of the public via its freephone helpline.

We’ve been working with Advice NI since 2007, providing a Moodle LMS e-learning platform that helps it to deliver vital training to its team. As Advice NI has grown and technology has advanced, we’ve supported the charity through multiple upgrades, new developments and changing requirements.

But the e-learning infrastructure really came into its own when Covid-19 struck in 2020. Advice NI was entrusted with delivering the Covid-19 Community Helpline, which meant calls to its advice lines immediately jumped from 70 a day to 2,000 a day. At this point, the LMS played a fundamental role in training up the new volunteers needed to help staff the helpline.

Rapidly sharing knowledge with of influx of newcomers 

To manage the sudden increase in call volume as quickly as possible, Advice NI relied on the help of a team of committed — but untrained — volunteers. Around 90 volunteers signed up to help the charity field calls as vulnerable members of the public struggled with shielding letters, accessing food and medicine, and other significant upheavals to their lives.

For the volunteers to be able to give appropriate help, they each needed to be trained in Advice NI’s systems and processes. At a time when staff resources were already stretched to breaking point, all hands were on deck to staff the phones, and face-to-face training was impossible, the Moodle platform was able to provide the perfect solution in a challenging situation.

Advice NI created learning content to show the army of volunteers how to use the case recording system that helps it to manage and monitor all of its contact with members of the public and the actions undertaken on their behalf. This included training on how to use the software itself and scripts to help volunteers during telephone calls.

Volunteers were also trained on the correct processes for referring vulnerable people to other organisations, such as local authorities and community groups, to get the support they needed. 

Highly efficient, fully accountable

Having its Moodle LMS in place not only helped Advice NI to quickly pivot away from face-to-face training when the pandemic hit, but also gave it the infrastructure to quickly and efficiently get training to new team members in a time of emergency.

New learning materials, links and videos were added to the LMS and instantly delivered to all employees and volunteers as new best practices or guidance emerged.

The transition to online learning means Advice NI also has a comprehensive digital record of learning completion, which helps it to report to local government and other funding bodies on compliance and engagement within its team.

“We’ve had a long relationship with Synergy Learning and have worked really well together. Both organisations have grown significantly over the time we’ve been working together and our relationship continues to adapt to match changing circumstances and new challenges. It was during the first lockdown that the importance of this relationship was most apparent.”

Patricia Donald | Head of Comms & Digital



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