Crawley staff’s insight into coping with power cuts

Sensory training at UK Power Networks as part of Learning at Work Week. Inga Wharfe taking part in sensory training
Sensory training at UK Power Networks as part of Learning at Work Week. Inga Wharfe taking part in sensory training

Staff at an office in Crawley discovered how arthritis and eye conditions can make coping with a power cut much more difficult

As part of Learning at Work Week on Friday, customer advisers at UK Power Networks in Crawley were invited to ‘walk in their customers’ shoes’ by wearing equipment that simulated common eye conditions and arthritis.

The aim was to give staff a better understanding of how conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma can affect customers in the rare event of a power cut.

Kerry Potter, customer vulnerability manager, said: “Our advisors always strive to provide the best possible service and understanding of people’s needs. People acquire empathy from their own experiences and this session boosts our employees’ understanding in situations that may be unfamiliar to them.

“We serve customers who might need more time to reset their trip switch or write down the reference number of the incident. Sensory training reminds us of many of the challenges that our customers face on a day-to-day basis.”

During busy times in the call centre, such as storms, UK Power Networks employees in roles such as finance, pensions and HR have ‘storm roles’ to help answer phone calls quickly and keep customers updated about work to restore power supplies.

Transport maintenance controller, Inga Wharfe, said: “I wore some equipment that simulates macular degeneration and arthritis which made me realise how difficult it would be to flick a trip switch in your home. In future I will be more mindful of this and make sure I give customers the time they need. It was a very useful experience.”

UK Power Networks owns and maintains the electricity network across the South East, London and East of England and has 1.7 million customers on its Priority Services Register which provides free additional help, support and advice during a power cut to people with health conditions, including arthritis and visual impairments.

To apply visit www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priority, ring 0800 169 9970, or email psr@ukpowernetworks.co.uk.