I used to travel a lot through the East End of London because I lived out in Leyton and then Leytonstone for a decade and my son was actually born in the London Hospital at Whitechapel. But, since I moved to north-west London almost three decades ago, I don’t visit the East End that much. Today though, I was over there to visit the Stroudley Walk post office.
Now, over the years, I’ve visited a lot of post offices because I used to be on the Board of Postwatch and then its successor Consumer Focus and I still chair the Post Offices Advisory Group of Consumer Focus. Sadly the location I viewed today is not a shiniest example of the best of the post office network as made plain by this customer comment.
So, what was I doing there? In my capacity as a non-executive Board member of the Online Centres Foundation, I wanted to visit a location involved in Get Online Week which runs from this Monday to this Friday and the OCF Head Office in Sheffield offered me Stroudley Walk post office as a participating location in the city where I live.
If the ambience of the Stroudley Walk post office is less than thrilling, the enthusiasm of the Get Online Week supporters that I met there totally made up for it. Sitting behind a table loaded with leaflets and a laptop were Julie Browne and Rujina Ali who gave me a warm welcome and explained the activities of Poplar HARCA (Housing & Regeneration Community Association) – an organisation covering some 8,500 propertiesi – for which they work.
The Association has six community centres and runs five sessions a week to introduce local residents to the Internet. As well as a web site, they are on Facebook and Twitter and have a magazine called “HARCA Life”.
The Get Online Week venture in Stroudley Walk post office was a friendly affair which had coloured balloons floating over the literature-filled table and a box of sweets on the table. On the side, visitors could have their face painted or pick up leaflets on such health issues as bowel cancer.
The exercise did not simply involve engaging customers entering the premises to transact post office services; half a dozen Association volunteers and staff were out and about outside the post office and in local shops and doctors’ surgeries encouraging local citizens to take some literature or sign up for a course. Their enthusiasm was positively infectious. Well done, guys.