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Thames Water partners with Berkshire Vision to support more visually impaired customers

Tuesday 21st September 2021 14:06

Thames Water has partnered with Berkshire Vision to support more customers with visual impairments.

The UK’s biggest water company is working with the Berkshire-based charity to encourage more customers in Berkshire to sign up to its priority services register (PSR) – a secure database of customers who would struggle to get by should their home’s water supply be disrupted.

Berkshire Vision is signposting to Thames Water’s priority services and the two organisations have created an information video with Berkshire Vision member Hannah. The campaign highlights how the PSR can help customers who need tailored communications such as large print bills or extra support during a supply interruption.

Hannah has neurological blindness, meaning her eyes are healthy but they do not communicate properly with her brain. She signed up to the PSR so she can receive bills in a format she can read and the PSR’s telephone service lets her know when planned Thames Water works might affect her water supply.

Hannah said: “Being signed up to the PSR means I can receive a large print document that I can read independently. I’m more comfortable ringing up Thames Water knowing there is a dedicated PSR service I can speak to and the people will understand I’m a vulnerable customer so I will need more assistance. I would encourage others to sign up to the priority service as Thames Water then know how they can best help you."

Olivia Worthington, partnerships lead at Thames Water, said: “Working with Berkshire Vision means we’re able to help more people should they experience an issue with their water supply or require billing information to be communicated in a format tailored to their needs. I’m incredibly proud of this partnership, which will help more customers with visual impairments continue to live independently.”

Laura Mitchell, Berkshire Vision CEO, said: “We’re pleased to be partnering with Thames Water to help more of our members sign up to the PSR. Providing communication services tailored to their needs will help them in their daily lives and it also will help reassure them that Thames Water will support them during a water supply disruption.”

Berkshire Vision provide vital practical and friendly support, sport and activities to visually impaired children and adults, and their families in Berkshire. Helping to develop confidence and live independent lives safely.

During a supply interruption PSR customers are contacted by Thames Water’s care team for bottled water deliveries directly to their homes if they are unable to get to a collection hub. The system also gives them advanced warning of planned work which may risk an interruption to their water supply and provides tailored communication services such as bills in large print, audio, or braille.

The new partnership with Berkshire Vision is part of wider changes to the way Thames Water registers people for the PSR. Since last September relatives, carers and charities can add customers to the PSR on their behalf, if they think they could benefit from extra support.

Last year the water company teamed up with Age UK Berkshire to encourage older customers to join its PSR and has also introduced the British Sign Language app into its support services for customers who are Deaf to enable more inclusive and accessible communications.

Thames Water customers who are living with long-term health conditions, mobility issues or qualify for a pension can join the company’s free priority services register. Thames Water has over 271,000 customers signed up to its PSR but aims to have 410,000 by 2025.

Customers can find out if they qualify for the PSR and sign up by visiting Priority Services or calling 0800 009 3652. Relatives, charities, and carers can also visit the priority services page and fill in a simple to use application form, to sign up a customer on their behalf.