Addressing equality and disability across the Post Office Network

Setting the scene

The Network Change Programme was a Government led initiative to modernise and reshape the Post Office® network and put it on a more stable footing for the future. Over an 18 month period commencing in October 2007, approximately 2,500 branches were closed, with more than 500 of them replaced by outreach services.  The changes were delivered across the UK on an area by area basis following a detailed pre-public consultation planning stage and a six-week period of local public consultation on the proposed changes.

Requirement

Post Office® wanted to ensure that they took into consideration the needs of vulnerable groups when considering each branch closure, and that key messages and information were communicated to local, regional and national disability organisations. They also wanted to ensure that their field teams working with agency branches had the right tools and understanding to be able to encourage branches to make the remaining Network as accessible as possible.

Solution

Mary-Anne was appointed Network Change Programme Equality Officer to project manage areas of the Programme and advise decision makers on the equality aspects of their decisions. Mary-Anne worked with the Head of Social Action and Inclusion to review the whole Network Change Programme from a disability/equality perspective and with the Head of External Relations to engage with national and local opinion formers.

Mary-Anne also revised the Post Office® branch audit programme, designing a new access audit and training all field team members to equip them with an understanding of the barriers faced by disabled customers, and appropriate solutions.

Benefit

Post Office® was confident that the ‘disability lens’ was applied at different stages of the Network Change Programme. National Decision Makers and legal team were able to seek guidance from a disability consultant throughout the process.

And, as an added benefit, having received training on disability equality and on access issues faced by disabled customers, the field team who work with branches on an ongoing basis, has been able to continue passing on their awareness to subpostmasters and other branch managers.

Client feedback

 

 

 "Mary-Anne joined us to provide expert advice and guidance which proved invaluable to our decision making processes.

Her skills and knowledge added much to our own knowledge base, from which the company continues to benefit.

She was a great team player who understood our aims and objectives and provided many solution-based recommendations to the issues we faced along the way."

 

Sue Huggins OBE, Director of Network Development, Post Office Ltd 2009