MABS – Open and Here to Help

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by Una, North Dublin MABS

March 2020 will be remembered for many years to come, as COVID-19 (coronavirus) has had a big impact on how we go about our daily our lives. These are challenging times, however, there is hope and returning to positive qualities such as re-igniting community spirit, providing support to our neighbours – at a physically acceptable distance – and having the courage to ask for help will mean we will make it through.

The virus does not discriminate; all of us must take the same precautions regardless of where we come from, how we live, and what we believe. This time shows how we are all connected and how we are using technology to remain connected. MABS will continue to connect with anyone who needs us, whether an existing client or not. We might not be able to meet face-to-face, but we will always have your back.


Read on to learn more about this challenge and how MABS is adapting to make sure we are providing support to those of us who need money, debt and budgeting advice.

Our changing circumstances

Our lives have been brought to a halt, and how we go about our daily routine has changed. Simple tasks like grocery shopping are almost a military procedure. We are 'home-schooling' our children, checking in on our 'cocooning' elderly, and supporting the vulnerable in the safest ways possible. Ultimately, our responsibilities are to the safety of ourselves as individuals, our families and our communities. As a nation, we are observing the rules by remaining in our homes, apart from having to leave for the essentials or carry out essential work/services.

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At the beginning of April 2020, figures showed over 500,000 people in Ireland are now in receipt of the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). These are people, just like you and me, who were working but because of the pandemic can no longer do so. They have been temporarily laid off, which can have a negative impact on our mental and, financial health and wellbeing. The sudden reduced income brings up real questions such as; will I have a job to go back to when this is all over? How will I pay my Mortgage or Rent? Or, how can I manage to budget on a reduced income?

MABS is open and available to support

The Government has identified MABS as an essential service. MABS has identified that the demand for personal money and debt advice will continue to grow. To meet the anticipated demand, we have introduced new features such as a webchat facility on our website. We continue to work with our colleagues in the Citizens Information Board to review and evaluate the level of demand. We provide up-to-date information relating to the financial implications of COVID-19.

We will continue to operate a full service.

Service Operation (Offices)

MABS operates over 60 offices nationwide. All our offices remain open, although face-to-face appointments are not taking place. Each of the offices continues to offer full money and debt advice service, to our existing and new clients. We are providing our service by phone, email & post. We are working with our clients and encouraging them to communicate by email, safe in the knowledge that information will be received and responded to from secure locations.

While we understand not all of you are fully confident in technology, there is always the option to contact us by phone or by post.

Working from Home

In line with Government policy, to ensure all our staff are safe and observing the 2-metre social distancing rule, some of us are working from home. This is a first for a lot of MABS staff. We have embraced this by structuring our personal lives and space to ensure we continue to offer a full service to our clients. We do have access to our emails from home; it is very important that you are aware email communication to and from MABS staff working from home is equally secure to that of communication from staff working from our offices. All staff are adhering to GDPR procedures and policies to make sure your information is safe and secure.

The MABS National Helpline

This vital function of MABS continues to operate as it always has. Advisers are at the end of the phone to listen, understand and signpost you in the right direction. The MABS National Helpline can be contacted on 0761 07 2000 Monday to Friday 9.00am to 8.00pm.

The MABS Website

The MABS website www.mabs.ie continues to support you with all the features you would expect: information on various types of debts, budgeting tools, self-help tools on how to deal with creditors, and so on.

Adapting to changing times

How we interact in our daily lives may have changed, but we all still need help and support with dealing with our creditors, making a household budget, debt, arrears and ensuring we have maximised our income. MABS recognises this, and we are continuing to adapt to this change to continue to provide a full-service offering. Here are a few examples of how we are doing this.

The MABS website has also recently launched some new exciting features:

Abhaile

The Abhaile service continues to operate. Abhaile is available to homeowners who find themselves in mortgage arrears (before, during and after COVID19). This service provides vouchers for free financial (Personal Insolvency) and legal help from a host of expert professionals participating in the scheme. Dedicated Mortgage Arrears Advisers (available through your local MABS office), are continuing their important work at this time. The Court supports such as the Court Mentor, and Duty Solicitor are currently suspended in line with public health guidelines. County Registrar possession hearings are suspended in line with these guidelines, and the lenders have agreed to suspend legal proceedings for three months.

The Abhaile scheme aims to help homeowners find a solution to their arrears, with the ultimate goal where possible to remain in the family home.

Vouchers can be applied for through the MABS National Helpline or one of our countrywide services.

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Even when we can’t meet face-to-face, we will always have your back.

MABS has been designated an essential service. We will continue the important job we do, supporting and working with people and their finances. This echoes to all of us the importance of the service at all times, not least in a pandemic. MABS will continue to address household finances on a policy level and through services provided by the many money advisers and dedicated mortgage arrears advisers in over 60 locations nationwide. MABS has certainly embraced the challenges to ensure a service to our existing clients and those presenting to MABS for the first time. Rest assured that MABS continue to provide a full service that is free, confidential and non-judgmental.