Volunteering to plan and run an event to bring a range of government services directly to patients and carers at a local hospice could hardly have been more daunting. But it proved a unique and liberating experience for Chris Hare and Chris Challenger from the Land Registry.
When we volunteered to be part of the Government Access Point (GAP) pilot project we had no idea of the responsibility that would be handed to us. However we came away feeling we had really made a difference and helped people going through an extremely difficult and emotional period in their lives.
The idea behind the GAP project run by Civil Service Local North West is to make representatives of various government departments available in one place and at the same time for the benefit of vulnerable customers.
It’s all part of the way Civil Service Local is looking to reform and develop central government provision under the Civil Service Reform Plan, including promoting engagement with young people, inter-departmental cooperation, people development and vulnerable customer support.
When Fylde Office was approached by Civil Service Local North West to take part in GAP we volunteered to be part of the team tasked with providing this service to people with a terminal illness and the family/friends who care for them.
We first attended an overview meeting at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in Liverpool where we met Civil Service Local North West representative Janice Lea and the other project team members from HMRC, Department for Work and Pensions, JobCentre and the Passport Office.
Janice explained that our first event had been arranged with St Catherine`s Hospice in Preston the following month.
As this was a new initiative our remit for the day was to decide the best way to deliver it. Neither of us knew what to expect but we imagined someone would tell us what we were doing and how to do it. How wrong we were.
Although we got some background information there was no plan as such and we were given the opportunity to put our heads together and plan the day ourselves. It was an opportunity that our day jobs rarely present.
We would have to bond quickly as a team, not to mention plan and carry out the event in just over 3 weeks. To say we hit the ground running would be an understatement.
The format of the event would involve face-to-face appointments with patients, carers or staff to help them obtain information relating to their circumstances.
Talking to our colleagues we were struck by how little was known about Land Registry so we offered to give a short presentation at the event to highlight who we are, what we do, the information we hold and the services we offer.
We also devised a leaflet highlighting relevant services for carers and patients, including our new Property Alert service, and a poster commissioned from our Marketing Services Team displaying information about our services, contact details and other useful information.
On the day we had several appointments for Land Registry queries and our presentation generated further questions on boundary issues, adverse possession and how someone could find out if their parent’s house was registered.
After the event we hosted a meeting at Fylde Office for the project team to discuss what did and didn’t go well and how to take the project forward. The feedback forms from the event showed it had been very well received.
We’re planning to run more events and the two of us are taking the lead and approaching other local hospice. This will bring new challenges and opportunities to put into practice what we learned from the St Catherine’s event.