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We commissioned an organisation that regularly works with people with protected equalities characteristics to carry out a face-to-face consultation with us. There were seven people with a range of physical, sensory and learning disabilities from throughout East Devon, and one resident from East Devon’s deaf community.

Key outcomes from this workshop are as follows:

Overall

  • Overall users were generally positive about the services we provide and welcomed the chance to voice their views.
  • On the whole service users feel they were treated fairly by us and feel we do our best.
  • Generally they feel they were helped quickly and that our staff are polite.
  • They didn’t always know how to access information about us or they couldn’t access online information.

Safety

  • The majority feel safe in their communities. Generally the group didn’t think anti-social behaviour was much of a problem.
  • When they did experience anti-social behaviour it mainly related to noise and intimidating behaviour from neighbours. On the whole they agreed we deal well with these complaints.

Access to services

  • The majority found that contacting us on a variety of issues is easy to do.
  • Online access to services is seen as good. However, they feel that information should be available in other ways as some didn't have access to a computer.
  • Some concerns were raised that to access some services face-to-face they had to travel to Sidmouth. They suggested outreach services should be available across East Devon.
  • Concerns were raised about the limited availability of face-to- face meetings for the deaf community with a BSL interpreter present. They said this is the most effective way to communicate with the deaf community.
  • There were requests for more equalities awareness training for council staff to help them better understands what access issues are and how to resolve them.
  • They agreed postal communication has greatly improved over the last decade.

Influencing decisions

Generally they did not feel they had any influence on major
decisions made by us. They feel that when we asked for residents opinions they had already made the decisions.

Services we provide or support

  • Housing advice - Generally they feel there is limited housing advice and information. There were requests for written information to be in bigger font sizes. The deaf community would prefer more face-to-face meetings with a BSL interpreter to reduce the amount of misunderstandings. More use of BSL would be seen a positive move.
  • Housing and Council Tax benefit - Most of the group were confused about the new rules for Council Tax support. They feel the literature is not particularly clear and most were confused by the rules for people who have savings.
  • Home Safeguard - There were suggestions about better training for staff to show them what to do if they come across an alarm call and also training on what to do if service users ask for information or assistance due to their particular equalities need, particularly if they are a member of the deaf community.
  • Waste and recycling – Assisted collections were seen as a very good service and staff linked to them are always helpful. There were some comments that people had asked for assisted collections and needed them but they were turned down by us.
  • Car parking – Car parks in East Devon are considered very expensive  and do not provide enough disabled parking bays. The bays they do provide are not wide enough.
  • Sports and leisure – Leisure East Devon offers a good amount of sports opportunities for people with disabilities but there were comments that these should be more widely publicised.
  • Arts and culture – The hearing loop in Exmouth Pavilion is not very good and it isn’t near a bus stop if you have mobility issues. The Thelma Hulbert Gallery is good.
  • Public toilets – Some have closed in East Devon which creates issues for some people with equalities needs.