Coronavirus Update

During the Covid pandemic FRU moved to operating remotely. We have now returned to the office, but in a limited way. Clients and Volunteers can attend the office for key meetings by appointment. But most work is being carried out remotely. 


Referring cases
We are accepting referrals using our new online referral form which can be found here

If you have any difficulty using this form please speak to our administrator.

We have also amended our referral policy in two key ways:

  • We are accepting Social Security cases with 10 days to go before the hearing, rather than the normal 14. We understand that things are more difficult for both Appellants and referral agencies.
  • We are not accepting Employment cases lasting longer than three days. Unfortunately, in the current environment it is just too difficult to locate and supervise suitable volunteers to deal with these more complex cases.

In current circumstances, we are not requiring a client signature on the referral form. Confirmation from you, or in a separate email from the client, that they have understood and accept our terms is sufficient.
Since we are working in a hybrid model, most contact with clients will be by phone and email. If you are referring a client who will find this difficult please let us know so we can make arrangements. 
We know that everybody is dealing with a challenging situation. If there is anything we can do to help, please do get in touch.  Our telephone line is open from 2pm to 5pm on working days - 020 7611 9555.

Volunteering
Volunteers remain at the heart of FRU’s work. During lockdown we have been training volunteers remotely and there is a pool of active volunteers taking on cases. Referrals are still coming in, but at a lower rate than normal.

Many social security and employment cases are still being heard remotely. More cases, however, are being heard in person and we expect that trend to continue.
Lockdown and remote working reduced our capacity. It was harder to get cases in and more time consuming to supervise them. Things are starting to return to normal but capacity remains lower. This means that we have reduced the number of volunteers we have trained. We do not want to train large number of volunteers if they will not be able to take on a case.

I’m interested in training as a volunteer: We expect the next round of training to take place in April/May 2022. It will be conducted remotely. You should sign up to our training day newsletter to be informed about dates and booking arrangements. The number of places on this training will remain quite small given the current numbers of available cases. We want to try to make sure that everyone who attends the training as the opportunity to take on a case.
I’m a current volunteer and want to take on a case: You should be able to see available cases through the FRU Online system. Contact the relevant legal officers by email to express an interest in a suitable case.
I’m a current volunteer, but the 12 months I have to take on a case following the training day is going to expire: Because the number of available cases has been low, we are currently allowing anyone who did the training in 2019 or later to attend the remote training in the same subject as a refresher without charge until Spring 2022. We will send you an email when the training days are announced. If you think this applies to you, but you do not receive an email, contact us. 

The Future

Overall the situation for FRU seems to be improving. The London office has now reopened, we are receiving and taking on more cases. We hope these trends will continue. We are grateful for all the support we received during these difficult times from our partners and other agencies, as well as our volunteers.