Serving the community by being part of it - the Natwest team in Dartmouth.
Nat West’s Dartmouth Branch is at the heart of the town – opposite the Royal Avenue Gardens, abutting the beautiful and historic Butterwalk – but the branches’ staff are working hard to ensure that they are at the heart of Dartmouth’s community too.
Manager Alison Bostock is Devon born and bred, she has worked for Nat West since 1982 – though has taken some time out to have her family – and has been Dartmouth branch manager for five years.
She said that the Dartmouth branch of Nat West was connected to the community in a way that is rare in the banking sector.
“We don’t just work here, we live here too,” she said. “We focus on our customers and their needs, rather than going into the hard sell. People know us and say hello in the street – we have to remind them we can’t discuss their bank accounts in the street sometimes!”
Alison is personally leading the drive to get involved in the Dartmouth community: she coordinates the fundraising efforts for charity by South Devon Branches of the bank and worked with her staff to hold a fundraising week in aid of the Rowcroft Hospice in Dartmouth itself, bringing in £457. She has become involved with the local drive to make Dartmouth ‘Dementia Aware’ and has attended the local Memory Café, run by charity Dartmouth Caring.
“The Dartmouth Branch feels like a family,” she says. “We understand the lives and concerns of our customers, and thanks to Nat West’s support of community links and volunteering, we are supported to do that. We believe that if we all put a little bit into the community we will help to make a big difference – and we are already seeing that in action.”
Alison’s staff has many connections to the local community - Sandra Porter from Kingswear has been at the branch for 34 years!
“I love working here,” she says. “It’s been brilliant – I’ve seen customers, then their children and now their children’s children too! I feel proud of the work we do to raise funds for good causes and keeping connected to the community is also really important.
“We have a Customer Charter, but frankly we have been doing all it says in Dartmouth ever since I’ve been here. If you get the service right, all the rest follows.”
Darren King, a 41-year-old Private Banking Manager, has been working for Nat West for a quarter of a century.
“I help customers manage their funds if they have a large amount in savings,” he said. “I think it’s great we offer a personal service and that’s made easier by the atmosphere at Dartmouth. Knowing the area is vital to our customers – they want to feel comfortable and that’s what the familiar faces in branch can do.
“We are very positive about the charity and community work we do – Nat West allow us time away from branch to do voluntary work and we have a charity of the year each year. The customer is at the heart of all we do and we try to concentrate on getting the little things right for them – like remembering their name and things like that – but everyone likes to see that we are giving something back to the community. It’s something we are proud to do.”
Shauna Sheriff has a wealth of experience in banking and retail, and after 10 years working for Nat West, the former Dartmouth School pupil said it was like coming home when she moved to the branch two and half years ago.
“Often you go to a new job and it’s like starting again,” she said. “But here I kept bumping into old school friends! You are comfortable with the people here in branch and the customers, most of whom you get to know well.”
Shauna is looking to increase her work in the Dartmouth community and hopes to support the branch’s charity and community effort too.
“Banks have a bit of bad press,” she said. “We think the best way to show we should be trusted is to work with and for the community. We don’t do it for profit, we do it because we think it’s the right thing to do.”
Jo Mason, who has been working at the Dartmouth branch for 27years, said she felt lucky to have a job in which she has to commute on the ferry from Brixham.
“I often just look at the view and think how beautiful it is,” she said. “But I’m also lucky to be working in Dartmouth as there is such a positive attitude to getting to know the customers so that we can help them better. The community work and fundraising the branch does is very important because it helps you to understand what people want and need. I’m proud to work there because of it.”
First published March/April 2013 By The Dart