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"I have had people come up to me in tears"

Friday 11 November 2022

"I have had people come up to me in tears"

Friday 11 November 2022

Some islanders are facing language barriers trying to access support from Customer and Local Services, according to a Deputy.

Beatriz Porrée said the current system posed a problem for people who did not have English as a first language.

"Although it is open [La Motte Street], it is not open as it was before the pandemic, people have to go through a telephone [to access advice]."

She added: "I have had people come up to me in tears [about this], when they go to Social Security the support is not there, what they do get is signposted to a telephone. Through a telephone you are still going to have the problem of language.

"Prior to the pandemic you would take a ticket, sit down and then be seen straight away."

The government closed Philip Le Feuvre House during lockdown and announced in 2020 that it would remain closed to drop-in visitors.


Pictured: Deputy Beatriz Porée.

Deputy Porrée raised the concerns during a Health and Social Social Security Scrutiny Panel hearing on Thursday.

She said: "What we have now, the doors are open, when a person accesses there will be an officer with a screen so a person that comes across the service approaches that desk and they will be asked to sit at a telephone to book an appointment, so it's not an open-door access. So a lot of people will have to go home and book an appointment at the computer, and so a lot of people will need someone to support them with that application."

Social Security Minister Elaine Millar, however, defended the facility.

She said: "I would appreciate it if States Members stopped saying that La Motte Street is closed. The door is open, they can go in and speak to someone. Some language speakers may not get help immediately."

Deputy Millar advised Islanders that if they could phone before and bring paperwork it would mean a more "effective experience".


Pictured: Social Security Minister Deputy Elaine Millar suggested calling ahead of visiting the facility and bringing along paperwork.

She also added that they would be returning to in-person appointments, with CLS Director General Ian Burns indicating that this could take place towards the end of the month.

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Posted by Maureen Swann on
This is a problem that faces English speakers too when their telephone call is answered by someone with a strong foreign accent. It can be very difficult to explain your problem and to understand what could be a complicated answer.
Posted by Keith Marsh on
Does not seem a "Customer Friendly" Service, lets change it NOW.
Posted by Jon Jon on
Maureen is correct, its a case of ...what did you say etc. I visited SS recently and staff helpful and pleasant.
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