Enabling all of our customers to access our services is really important to us, so earlier this year we established an initiative called Quiet Hour. Initially piloted in eight branches, every Wednesday afternoon 4-5pm we ensured our branches were set up to help customers who have sensory sensitivities or impairments, dementia, learning disabilities, ADHD and autism, or mental health conditions like anxiety to discuss or manage their finances.
During this hour, the branches operate with reduced lighting, limited background noise and the removal of digital screens, with additional private office space and longer appointment times offered to those who would find it beneficial.
After eight weeks of running the Quiet Hour, fantastic feedback had been received from customers and colleagues in the participating branches. 20 branches and three agencies now operate Quiet Hours, which means that up to the end of September we had already hosted 184 quiet hours across the country. It’s been such a big success in the Newcastle branch that they now have a quiet hour every weekday.
Janis Hambling, Senior Manager overseeing the Vulnerable Customer Support Team, said
“We recognise that some of our customers, new or existing may have additional needs that mean they find coming into the branch difficult or impossible, or are not able to do what they want if the environment affects them.
We introduced these small changes knowing they’d be welcome relief for those who can’t face queues, busy or noisy places or who would benefit from a little bit of extra care and attention.”
It’s brilliant to see the impact the hour is having. A customer in Chesterfield Branch told us
“My wife suffers from anxiety about going into busy places like banks and building societies so this has really helped her.”
The branches and agencies that are taking part so far are: Chesterfield, Lincoln, Pickering, Ripon, Scarborough, Preston, Watford, Peterborough, Castleford, St Neots, Norwich, Plymouth, Wetherby, Nottingham, Pontefract, Selby, Holmfirth, Newcastle, Leeds, Wigan, Berwick-Upon-Teed Agency, Wilmslow Agency and Clowne Agency.
It’s brilliant to see the impact we’re having on our customers and we hope to continue rolling our Quiet Hour to more branches and agencies.
A new volunteering programme to prepare young people for the world of work.
We’re continuing to build on the success of our apprenticeship scheme.
Our colleagues volunteer their time in schools to improve young people’s financial education.
Colleagues swap their beds for sleeping bags to raise money for End Youth Homelessness.
The way consumers use financial services is evolving, leading to some necessary changes for us to meet our customers’ changing needs.
Hundreds of our colleagues take on our Peak District challenge for End Youth Homelessness.
We’re working towards our ambition of creating an inclusive work environment, where all colleagues can contribute to the Group’s success.
We are supporting homeless young people this Christmas as part of our charity partnership with End Youth Homelessness (EYH).
With EYH, we have housed 15 young people since launching in June.
Building on the success of our apprenticeship scheme, we’ve opened 24 new positions across 10 different business areas.
We are proud to have been a double winner at the Third Sector Business Charity Awards 2016.
Our six Savings Pledges reflect how we believe savings institutions should behave.
Over 1,300 solar panels installed at our Bradford and Peterborough offices .
Everyday Thanks was launched in September 2015 as part of our Group’s 150th birthday.