Reflections on BC Unclaimed’s attendance at the 2023 Provincial Advocate Training Conference
November 2, 2023
Last week, BC Unclaimed attended the annual Provincial Advocate Training Conference (also known as “the PAC”) and manned an information table. The conference is organized by the Law Foundation of British Columbia and took place in Richmond on October 24, 25, and 26. Every year, this event brings together legal advocates, lawyers, and people from across the province who are actively working to improve access to justice. This was BC Unclaimed's first time participating in the conference, and it's part of our plan to make more people aware of our service and help those who need it most get their money back.
Why the PAC?
We saw the PAC as a great opportunity to connect with the community. Advocates are trusted advisors for many low-income people who are navigating the legal system, which is exactly who we want to reach. Over the past 20 years, our biggest source of unclaimed funds has been from the courts, totaling $64 million. Many of these balances are related to foreclosure and debt settlements. Often, people who are representing themselves in these cases don't realize there might be money left after their home is sold or their debts were settled. Advocates can help their clients obtain the court order needed to get these funds.
An advocate’s status as a trusted individual was also a reason for our participation. Many people who contact us to claim their funds state that it was a friend, relative, or colleague who mentioned BC Unclaimed might have money for them. Hearing about our service from someone you trust can be the difference between sending us your documentation or ignoring our letter. By making advocates aware of who we are and what we do, we hope they can encourage their clients to claim their lost money.
The conference was an excellent opportunity to introduce ourselves to the advocate community and we hope we made a positive first impression! As expected, many attendees had never heard about BC Unclaimed before. They were also puzzled about why we might be holding money for their clients, many of whom are experiencing poverty or homelessness. How could they have extra money lying around? We understand the confusion, but often because of the challenging circumstances their clients face, that can lead money to end up with BC Unclaimed. If you don’t have stable housing and move frequently, then you could understandably forget to update your addresses with companies and institutions that handle your money or your employer. In fact, one of the largest claims we’ve ever paid was for an individual who was unhoused and couldn’t be located to receive their share of their relatives’ estate.
This is just the beginning
Overall, it was a pleasure to talk to people about what we do and the sometimes life-changing amounts of unclaimed money we can get back to people. One of the best moments was when an advocate said she would be recommending all her clients search our website. That’s exactly what we aimed for and the message we wanted to convey by participating in the conference. Participating in the conference was a first step and has made our team excited about doing more outreach in the future. If you have any ideas about how we can raise awareness in your community, send us an email at email@example.com.
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