PEOPLE at risk of being cut off from advice services during the pandemic are being reconnected thanks to an IT firm.

Allteks is linking Citizens Advice Southampton with people who struggle with IT or do not have a computer at home.

The charity has been looking at ways to offer virtual meetings since its offices closed to the public during the first lockdown last March.

Allteks has built a virtual hub inside the city’s library as a pilot, allowing one person at a time to use a computer with easy-to-use video conferencing. The user can speak to a Citizens Advice member who is working from home.

The technology is in a one-person room that is thoroughly sanitised between uses.

The pilot was intended to show Citizens Advice Southampton (CAS) and Allteks what worked before the scheme was rolled out to other organisations in Hampshire and the South East.

Liz Donegan, chief officer of Citizen’s Advice Southampton, said: “CAS wants to share learning with more organisations in Hampshire and the South East to develop a solution with the potential to be used across different services in the future.”

CAS and Allteks will be developing the concept further thanks to funding from the National Lottery and Catalyst’s digital response programme.

The partnership aims to deliver a working solution in the coming weeks and the lessons learned will be shared with other local charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Allteks chief executive Don Iro, from Southampton, said: “We’re lucky that many of us have navigated through the lockdown because of having access to things like Zoom and Teams, but lots of people don’t have access to these things and are, in turn, losing out on the critical services that exist, such as Citizen’s Advice.

“It’s not just a case of being able to log on and have a meeting with someone. That’s a massive element of it, but the most valuable part of the whole scheme is that peoples’ lives will benefit from being able to access these services.”

Allteks will have been going for 20 years in February and is also working with third sector organisations such as local enterprise partnerships and councils.

It provides cloud computing, co-managed IT, disaster recovery and business VOIP (voice over internet) systems.