Specsavers staff go back to the classroom to learn sign language

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A DEDICATED dozen of workers have returned to the classroom to offer an even better service for their customers.

Twelve staff at the Specsavers branch, in the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre in Hartlepool, have volunteered to learn sign language.

Each came forward after store director Ian Walker said he wanted to increase the services already offered at the shop.

Mr Walker told the Hartlepool Mail: “It’s like going back to school but as soon as I put it out that I was thinking of doing this, 12 people had come forward.

“It’s a massive response and we are all giving up our time to go back to college.”

He said the reason for learning sign language was “to improve the service for our deaf and hard of hearing customers.

“We shall be doing four nights of learning spread over four weeks. If it goes well, we might learn some more. It is something we have thought of for a while as we want to give the best service we can possibly give.”

Mr Walker said the NHS supplied interpreters but it would be nice if he could taker the pressure off them by having staff who knew sign language anyway.

Specsavers’ attitude to training has stood it in good stead. It won the investment in training award at this year’s Hartlepool Business Awards.

Officials said their success was down to the opticians taking a fresh look at their policy for recruiting and dealing with new recruits.

It considers whether they are nice people, whether they are open and whether they are “smiling people,” said Mr Walker.

He said the firm tried its hardest with its training from the youngest new recruit upwards.

The store recently took on three new recruits and was looking at another four more as it took its staffing numbers up to 35.

Specsavers Hartlepool branch has enjoyed a great 12 months. It won the national title of Optician Practice of the Year at the Optician Magazine awards in London in April of last year.

The pro-active company was a sponsor of the recent Hartlepool Mail Sports Awards.

And the firm is also involved in the current competition within the Hartlepool Mail for one lucky football team to new a new strip.