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Staff at Wightlink are being advised by the experts on how to make sure older Islanders and mainland people experience excellent customer service while crossing the Solent.

Managers from Wightlink’s contact centre, customer relations and retail were at the first training session led by Age UK Isle of Wight on the best way to meet elderly people’s expectations and requirements while travelling by ferry.

The knowledge will now be rolled out to all colleagues working on ships and in ports across the company.

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Sara Howden, Head of Customer Experience says:

“Younger members of staff need to understand what it’s like to have limited mobility, vision or hearing. During the training we used weighted suits, modified glasses and headsets to give us a personal insight into the challenges elderly people often face in moving around an unfamiliar environment. We also learned more about how to support customers with dementia.”

Age Friendly Island – part of the Ageing Better programme and funded by the Big Lottery Fund – is working with many companies and organisations on the Island to raise awareness of the needs of their elderly customers. They include Hampshire Constabulary, Southern Water and Tesco. On the Isle of Wight, 27% of the population are over 65 years old and the number of over 80s is expected to rise by 40% over the next 10 years.

Jack Wedderkop, Age UK Isle of Wight’s Age Friendly Island Development Officer, says:

“We were delighted that Wightlink sought our help to support its older customers and would encourage all companies to invite us in to deliver the training to their staff.”

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Wightlink’s Operations Director Daryl Palmer adds:

“Many of our customers are elderly and some may have disabilities. These practical sessions will be invaluable for everyone – whether they are experienced colleagues or seasonal staff who have joined us for the summer.”

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