Supporting vulnerable customers - being autism friendly

Supporting vulnerable customers - being autism friendly

Our branches support a wide range of customers to perform nearly 300 different transactions, 17 million times a week. A number of those customers are vulnerable for one reason or another. They may have a physical or mental health issue which means they need extra help to engage in the branch, they may have a low level of financial education which leaves them vulnerable to making poor choices or they may just be lonely and at risk of being taken advantage of. Post Office has a unique role in supporting these customers, alongside the public at large, and doing so in a way which proves that we are a commercial business with a social purpose.

That’s why we are undertaking a range of activity both internally and with partners to make sure our branches, can best serve all our customers. Across the business, we are working with a number of organisations to establish how we can do this. One of the organisations we are starting to work with is the National Autistic Society which supports people with autism.

What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. There are approximately 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK and 64% of them avoid shopping because it’s too overwhelming.

Action on autism

The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour 2018 takes place next week, launching 10am on Saturday 6 October and runs through to closing time on Saturday 13 October. Over 10,000 retail stores across the UK will be hosting an Autism Hour with some of the following initiatives.

- Turning down music and other noise: Overwhelming noise is a common barrier to autistic people accessing shops and services. Where possible, in-store tannoy announcements and other controllable noise should be reduced.

- Dimming the lights: Lighting, particularly fluorescent strip lighting, can be overwhelming for autistic people. Wherever possible, whilst maintaining a safe premises, lights should be dimmed or switched off.

- Sharing information about autism with employees: You aren’t expected to be an autism expert – The National Autistic Society will provide information about autism for your staff to help them make your customers’ experience a positive one.

- Sharing information about The National Autistic Society’s Too Much Information campaign: The National Autistic Society will provide information about the Too Much Information campaign that you can share with the public during the week of 6-13 October to help to increase the public’s understanding of autism.

To learn more about Autism Hour, visit the National Autistic Society’s website here.