Ever stood in a post office queue and wondered why on earth you’re waiting so long? Surely just buying a stamp and weighing something shouldn’t take so much time?! Why is the worker at the desk having a 40 minute conversation with somebody and holding up the queue?
I’m sure many of you have had this frustrating experience. It’s only when you start to observe the conversation taking place at the post office counter that you begin to realise just how many vulnerable people there are that badly need this service. Many need help with form filling, benefits advice, sending things abroad, discovering what benefits they are entitled to, as well as simply paying a bill. These post office workers are absolute lifelines to some and are performing a vital role.
We really need to keep them.
Ideally, the local advice services should be able to help people with the issues they have in completing bureaucratic tasks, but a look around any local town will confirm what we all already know. Many advice services have gone, community centres and libraries are closing and legal aid is barely available. No wonder people turn to the friendly face at the post office counter.
The average person applying for a job with a post office probably never realised that they would be indirectly required to offer advice and help to those in need – particularly in areas of deprivation – but that is the reality of the jobs many are doing.
The Communications Workers Union says that plans to transfer up to 61 post offices into WHSmith stores will put 2000 jobs at risk, meaning that many vulnerable people will miss out on one of the only means of support open to them. Often the new shops have only one desk which is often more of a place to sell stationery and snacks rather than offer a service.
Even for those that are fortunate in not needing help with paperwork will miss the human touch offered by an experienced post office worker – somebody that can answer your question without you have to trawl various websites or go to a live chat session.
Please, don’t dehumanise our services anymore and isolate us any further – keep the reassuring faces at the post office counter.