Introduction – the purpose of our Communications Plan
The purpose of our External Communications Plan is to promote awareness of our policies and procedures for ensuring that our services are accessible to all, including those with disabilities and to meet the language needs of the clients that we serve.
Policies and Procedures
Our Equality Diversity policy is contained within our Office Manual and was reviewed and updated in December 2017. From the findings of that review, the firm decided to appoint a new Equality and Diversity Representative to champion Equality and Diversity issues on behalf of the firm for 2018 and onwards. This shows that this firm not only complies with current legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 but also takes very seriously our responsibilities as an employer and our obligations to our clients in ensuring that we meet their needs.
Ensuring that Services are Accessible to Clients
Our client base includes those with differing cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Due to the legal services we provide to our clients there is therefore often a need for interpreters to be involved from the inception of a case. We have a vetted and approved register of interpreters who we can engage with from the outset to ensure that we have a full understanding of the issues that a client is presented with.
For immigration matters, we currently provide marketing materials in different languages that we can provide to clients that details the services we offer and how they can instruct us. For 2018 we are updating our whole firm brochure to be available in different languages. These will be able to be provided to clients on request.
For those clients with disabilities, the majority of our offices are either on ground level and wheelchair accessible or on a higher floor with lift facilities to bypass all steps. We do have a couple of satellite offices which currently are unable to accommodate those with mobility issues, however, this is currently under review and we will offer appointments to clients at their home or at an alternative location wherever possible to do so.
For those with poor vision, we are moving to a Wordpress system on the website in 2018. In our brief we will look to install a plugin for poor visibility, which includes a toggle system for colour changes.
All of the text on our website is black against a white background and is in a print ready format. Most browsers now have the ability to zoom in/zoom out and we will provide detailed guidance on our website that sets out how to do this if required.
The update of our whole firm brochure will include a version that can be made available to those with poor visibility on request.
We will continue to review the situation throughout 2018 and any concerns or queries raised by clients or potential clients in this regard will be directed to the firm’s appointed Equality and Diversity Representative.
The Equality and Diversity Representative appointed by the firm is Helen Fanning, our Quality Manager who is based at our Nottingham Office.
Helen Fanning can be contacted using the following details:-
Tel: 0115 958 7444
Availability to the Public
We will ensure that our Equality and Diversity procedures are available to the public in the following ways:-
- We will publish our Communications Plan on our website so that clients and prospective clients are aware of our policies and procedures and how to request further information in this regard. At first point of contact our fee-earners and receptionists will invite clients/potential clients to let us know whether they have any special requirements that need to be catered for or accommodated.
- We will place a poster in the reception area in each office that sets out where further information about Equality & Diversity and accessing services can be obtained. This will also include the details of who to contact should a client or potential client wish to make a complaint about discrimination.
- Our Client Care letters/Terms of Business will reference our Equality and Diversity policy.
- We will ensure that all personnel including staff, Directors, including reception staff, are sufficiently trained to deal with people with courtesy, politeness and consideration regardless of their background.
- We will ensure that all personnel including staff, Directors, including reception staff take care to assess what clients can understand, and ask the client how they need to communicate rather than making assumptions about this based on their ethnic origin, age or disability.
- We will ensure that our premises and services are accessible to people with disabilities, as far as possible. We can always attend clients at their home or at an alternative venue if required.
- We will ask clients if there are any adjustments that need to be made to help them better access our services.
- We will inform our LAA Contract Manager about any reasonable adjustments if our client requires correspondence in an alternative format from the LAA.
We will carry out an annual review of this plan to check its effectiveness in action and whether any further training or adjustments need to be made to ensure that we are continuing to provide a quality service to our clients.