Feeling vulnerable has been top of the list for many this week with the Coronavirus taking hold in Europe, and more new cases being diagnosed outside of China than inside for the first time. Travellers visiting Northern Italy and those being quarantined in Tenerife feel exposed and concerned about getting home, as well as worried about the impact of self-quarantine when they get there. How can they manage to self-isolate, look after children, continue to work etc?
The weather forecast for the next few days with Storm Jorge heading our way will leave those who have already been exposed to flooding and disruption from recent weeks feeling vulnerable again as another storm takes hold.
I too am feeling a little vulnerable this week as I picked up an injury on my skiing holiday. I’ll be ok – nothing that a little R&R won’t sort hopefully! Whilst I’ve used the opportunity to take some time to relax and catch up on some books that have been on my to-read list for a while, I’d rather be feeling safe and secure in my home environment.
We had our first Leading Practice Forum of 2020 this week too – the focus of which coincidentally was on vulnerability. Hosted by Scottish Widows at the prestigious Mound in Edinburgh, more than 80 attendees from across our network discussed different approaches, ideas and shared views on how to best manage vulnerable customers whilst not forgetting vulnerable colleagues. 
Most organisations now will have an existing approach in place to help employees make an appropriate assessment of customers and take the necessary steps and actions. But is it always so easy to spot a vulnerable person? And once the vulnerability has been identified, how do we make sure we are caring for the customer in the best possible way?
The session covered several areas of vulnerability including debt, long-term illness, and situations of domestic and economic abuse – and shone a light on not only the most crucial areas for us to ensure we’re providing customer protection, but also help to provide a clearer idea of what good looks like and how we, as a collective network, can raise the bar and set out a process for continuous improvement and learning. 
As is very often the case, when we are feeling at our most exposed, vulnerable and in need, it’s those skilled, dedicated and qualified people who talk to customers across all our organisations that can make a difficult situation seem that little bit less scary. Providing reassurance, and someone who just understands and takes control, can be the thing that defines that moment for a customer. Making that difference, however small – even if it’s just to listen - can help things seem more manageable. A problem shared is a problem halved, as the saying goes. 
Vulnerability is not a straightforward issue to address. There’s no quick fix – more of a fluid and shifting agenda where we need to be flexible and agile in our response. It’s a topic we’ll be covering at quite a few sessions this year, so please do participate. We also want to recognise those organisations that are truly innovating in this space with a specific category in this year’s CCA Excellence Awards now open. Click here for further details.
Have a great weekend!

Anne Marie​