Citizens Advice Manchester strengthens outreach services with Google Meet Hardware






Citizens Advice Manchester is one of a network of 270 local, independently-run branches across the UK providing free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to people on a wide range of subjects.





About the project


When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Citizens Advice advisers across the country could no longer meet with clients face to face. Using Google Meet hardware supplied by Ancoris and ASUS, Citizens Advice Manchester was able to replicate the suspended outreach sessions by working with partner venues that were still allowed to offer face-to-face services. The project began with a one-month pilot in a SureStart centre, using demonstration hardware borrowed from Ancoris and ASUS. This proved so successful that the solution was quickly rolled out to other partner venues across the city, with hardware in almost a dozen locations a year later.

Citizens Advice face to face meeting-1


  • Citizens Advice Manchester was providing advice through telephone, digital and face-to-face channels. Face-to-face meetings were held either at the organisation’s own office or, through its outreach programme, during sessions at partner venues such as libraries, SureStart centres and GP surgeries.
  • People needing advice can see either generalist advisers or, for more complex issues in specific areas, one of a small number of specialists. Where face-to-face sessions were scheduled, advisers could spend up to 45 minutes each way to travel to partner venues, with specialist advisers often making the trip for a single advice session — but sometimes clients didn’t show up for their appointments. All of that meant a lot of time wasted on travelling rather than helping people.
  • When the UK went into lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, advisers could no longer provide face-to-face advice. Citizens Advice Manchester continued to offer advice through existing telephone and digital channels but a significant proportion of the people the organisation serves are digitally disadvantaged and can’t or don’t want to use those channels. Advisers also found that telephone and digital advice sessions weren’t always as effective as face-to-face meetings, because it wasn’t as easy to build rapport with clients when they couldn’t see non-verbal cues.


  • Clients can still attend face-to-face meetings, by simply touching a touchscreen when they go into an interview room at a partner venue in order to be able to “meet” their adviser — with no mouse, keyboard or menu system to navigate.
  • Advisers find Google Meet a great substitute for face-to-face meetings because they can still see non-verbal clues when talking to clients. It’s also easy for them to manage appointments remotely through Google Calendar and for managers to swap in a different adviser if the scheduled adviser is no longer available.
  • Partner venues like the system because it's easy for clients to use and very reliable, so partners don’t have to provide any IT support. The solution also allows vulnerable clients who drop in and urgently need advice to see an adviser on the same day.
  • When meetings resume, the solution will  deliver some of the outreach services in a more cost-effective, efficient and flexible way. Eliminating time spent travelling to venues will let advisers and specialist advisers see more clients during sessions. Finally, it will be easier to provide translation support for clients who need it, by inviting interpreters into Google Meet sessions.
Adviser on Google Meet call-1

Want the full story?

Read blog by Stuart Pearson, Chief Digital Officer, Citizens Advice Manchester and see how exactly  Google Meet strengthened outreach services.

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