Impact story: Confidentiality and security when collecting data

Redbridge Equalities and Community Council (RECC) has worked with the communities of Redbridge, Essex, for over 50 years. It also works with equality and community councils in neighbouring boroughs. A small team of three staff and over 20 volunteers provide advice and advocacy for the most vulnerable people, including homeless people.

Before the pandemic, RECC would provide advice in community-based locations, using public spaces such as local libraries and night shelters. When these were closed, they extended their helpline hours and found the phone constantly ringing with enquiries.

RECC are most proud of their work to enable people to stay in their homes when living on a reduced income meant they were unable to pay rent. They also lobbied the council successfully for rough sleepers to be helped off the streets and into accommodation so that they could self-isolate.

The RECC team gathers information on people’s needs through one-to-one case work and they use forms to monitor client ethnicity. They have not yet been able to set up digital systems for case work data, so this is kept as paper files. Clients are issued with satisfaction forms and positive outcomes for clients are also recorded.

They don’t ask for information when they have undocumented cases. Although this is not required by funders in such cases, they realise that this information is vital in order to demonstrate the reality of needs for people who are vulnerable. Such data could be used to do a mapping exercise and to provide information to apply for funding.

The priority continues to be to serve their clients and to digitalise – clients especially need mobiles/laptops to stay connected.

If you are thinking of doing something similar we suggest you:

  1. Learn about ethics and data protection. Check out more here.
  2. Learn more about safeguarding here.
  3. Read how Sikh Women’s Action Network maintain confidentiality of users when receiving feedback.

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