Charities to treat users as customers

A project to encourage the voluntary sector to treat service users as customers has been launched by homelessness charities.

The Homeless Customer project will urge agencies to see their relationship with homeless people as a two-way process, rather than assuming their service users are beneficiaries.

The scheme, run by theatre company Cardboard Citizens and charities Off the Streets and Into Work (OSW) and Homeless Link, will initially involve training for agencies, followed by peer research and the development of a customer care kite mark for the voluntary sector.

OSW contracts manager Ima Miah said the public service concept of care had yet to spread to the voluntary sector.

She said agencies often did not appreciate that although homeless people did not hand over money for services, their participation in services was the basis for their funding.

“It’s almost like we are doing a favour for them but it’s not necessarily like that because we are getting money for them,” she said.

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