Meet Samantha Hodgson – our latest StaffSafe Hero

How our call centre operator Samantha made a difference to a lone worker 

The incident

Samantha has had very positive feedback from a client’s staff member who found herself in a threatening and potentially dangerous situation while working alone. Samantha tells us what happened:

‘I remember speaking to the staff member who was trying to tell me that the customer wanted money from her. All the time the staff member was talking, the customer kept shouting that he wanted the money he had won. But it was after 10 pm, so the staff couldn’t make a payout, and the man had lost all his money and wanted to be refunded. He was shouting at her to give him his money and getting very aggressive.

I was watching him on CCTV and, due to his aggressive manner, I contacted the police straight away as he was becoming more agitated. I continued to advise the employee that I was passing all information on to police.

The man continued to be aggressive and I had to keep warning him, through the two-way communication, to step away from the counter and stop putting his arms through the space.

The police told me they would attend on an immediate response due to the staff member being a lone worker and the customer being so aggressive. I reassured the woman employee that I had CCTV open and would continue to monitor her until police arrived, which I did.

I got feedback too, which was very nice, and made me feel like I do make a difference to how people feel when they are in a confrontational situation.

The feedback

And here’s how, after the incident, the employee told us that Samantha and StaffSafe®

had made a real difference: ‘a million thank yous for watching over me in what was a very strange situation to what I’m used to in my normal shop. Even though I was well out of my

 comfort zone, I felt safe and calm so thank you beyond words’.

Samantha tells us more about her role

Anti-Social behaviour is on the increase, as well as more serious incidents, and my role is continually developing with the times as we bring in more and more equipment and technology, covering more clients visually as well as audibly, which helps the clients and us to deal with whatever situation may be occurring.

The duties of the day vary depending on what shift you are on. During the day, we can be dealing with antisocial behaviour, shoplifters, assaults or even armed robberies. As well as dealing with our calls, we will be assisting engineers through the system as they install new units or repair already installed units. During the night we can be dealing with break ins, fights or, through the use of CCTV and audio, checking that authorised personnel are on site (cleaners and delivery drivers). Day and night, we continue to train newer members of staff and complete any admin that may need updating.

I enjoy the variety of my job. One minute you can be taking test calls from staff and the next minute you can be dealing with a serious Incident where we use our experience in offering support and reassurance. No two days are the same in the job and you can never predict what kind of shift you are going to have.

The nature of calls have changed drastically since I started five years ago. Break ins were not very common but have become a weekly occurrence with some stores being on high alert. Armed robberies have become more violent and more frequent. There is more antisocial behaviour as youths hang around in large groups which can be intimidating to others. And Lone workers can find themselves in very vulnerable situations these days.

Congratulations Samantha on being named StaffSafe Hero of the Month.

 

StaffSafe Heroes

IMG_0969StaffSafe® is more than its ultra-fast connectivity and the advanced technology behind the system… even more important is its unique ability to put front-line staff in immediate contact with a highly trained professional person in our monitoring centre who intervenes, takes control, and provides the reassurance and assurance that is essential when employees are faced with a stressful, dangerous or life-threatening situation.

And so, each month, we’re celebrating our StaffSafe Heroes, the people who work in our business with around-the-clock dedication to give our clients invaluable support, right when they need it most.

We’re proud to announce that our StaffSafe Hero for May is Nicky Paton. Thank you Nicky for your commitment, positive attitude and the wealth of knowledge you bring to StaffSafe.

StaffSafe Hero – Nicky Paton

Nicky is responsible for operations, staff training and liaising with clients in our monitoring centre in Dumfries. He has been working with our company for over 7 years now.

Read more about Nicky and what he does:

What does your day consist of?

It can be quite difficult to explain to people what we do… it’s so much more than ‘security’. I see our job as protecting client welfare, looking after and protecting staff at the front-line of retail, or lone workers. One minute we can be speaking to someone about how to deal with rowdy teenagers spitting in a fast-food restaurant or the next we could be supporting someone who is being held at gun-point in a local convenience store. It’s about customer care.

When we respond to calls, our experience of managing a whole range of complex situations and dealing with people enables us to think quickly, efficiently and effectively. We are highly trained and understand just how important our words and actions are in taking control, supporting the appropriate action, and providing reassurance.

And we don’t end the call until we have dealt with the threat or alerted the emergency services, only when the staff member feels safe and confident to carry on their duties will we move on to the next call.

Has your role changed or the nature of situations you deal with changed over the years?

The number of incidents has certainly grown and client demand has increased. We have developed from providing a ‘want to have’ service to a ‘must have’ service. We have demonstrated the positive results our service can provide and to many, this has become a necessity.

The type of clients has changed too… we used to work with a lot of smaller independents, and we now also work with numerous high-end, blue-chip companies also.

Why is what you do important?

It’s so important for us to be able to take away the worry from front-line staff who could potentially come into contact with aggression, threats and even physical danger when dealing with customers. Facing this every day leads to stress, and possibly even mental health issues and injury. We’re trained in crisis intervention. It’s what we’re good at, and it’s helpful for our clients’ employees to know that a professional company is close by to take control of difficult and dangerous situations for them, providing them with practical support and reassurance. This allows them to get on with the job that they are good at and paid to do, and hopefully helps them to enjoy it more.

As many more lone-worker situations arise, it’s good for us to be quickly accessible at the end of a covert trigger, so that people who have to work alone don’t feel isolated and unsafe. It gives them more confidence in their work.

And as crime rates change, and the capacity for police to respond reduces, I feel we increasingly provide a vital service.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Every day is different and you’ll never deal with the same call twice and in the same way. Each client’s requirements must be met in a bespoke way too. It’s always changing and always provides a challenge.

I thrive on being able to make a difference and in knowing that our clients understand that we make every effort we can to help them. It’s good to know that we share, and can contribute to, our clients’ high standards and goals. And I feel like we’re on the front-line too with our clients’ employees.

I enjoy working in a team of professionals who also proud of their job and who take every step possible to provide the best service.

I feel that my job is unique and, whilst it’s based on latest technology, it’s mostly about people. People do what technology will never be able to do – display empathy.

Counting the cost of Retail Crime

Time to count the real cost of retail crime – speak to StaffSafe® at the ACS Summit 2019

StaffSafe® has attended one of the key events of the year in the UK convenience store businesses’ calendar, the ACS Summit in Birmingham at the Vox Conference Centre. And the venue, this year, feels more than appropriate … Vox is a Latin phrase that literally means ‘voice of the people’ and is used in the English language to represent ‘the opinion of the majority of the people’.

At this event, StaffSafe® aims was talk to as many other visitors as possible about how they can help to give their front-line staff ‘a voice’ when it comes to their safety, security and well-being, especially in the light of two very prominent industry stories of violent crime in convenience stores that have appeared in the press this week. One woman in Crewe was injured during an armed robbery, a teenager in Surrey was jailed for threatening a woman store worker with an axe, and two men were arrested for the murder of a north London store owner.

CEO of StaffSafe® Paul Cullinan comments: “We’re all accustomed to seeing the statistics of daily crime targeted against this sector. Yet, even figures such as the Association of Convenience Store (ACS) 2019 Crime Report, with crime against convenience retailers costing the sector an estimated £246m over the last year and over 10,000 incidents of violence reported, can begin to feel like ‘just a number’. As employers, it is our duty to look at the real cost of this crime – in human terms, and the impact on our employees. At StaffSafe®, we witness first-hand just how horrific some of these incidents are and what impact this can have on the people working in retail, from physical injury to trauma, long-term mental health problems, and the inability to return to work.”

StaffSafe® supports the government’s call to action for retailers, trade associations and unions to come forward with real evidence to understand the true scale of violent retail crime; the measures which could help prevent it; and the extent existing legislation is being used to tackle it. The four key areas of the consultation, which is open for 12 weeks until 28 June 2019, are prevalence and data; prevention and support; enforcement and the criminal justice system; and best practice.

Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins says: “Everyone has the right to feel safe at work and I know these crimes can have a significant impact on victims as well as retailers, customers and the wider community.”

Retailers can support the call for evidence by reporting their experience via the link: https://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/PVAUE/

Paul will be delighted to discuss StaffSafe® today, and to share best security and industry practice, while at this important event that aims to raise the industry bar through discussion and innovation.

StaffSafe® is a bespoke, specialist security solution that provides a unique, real-time, three-way communication between retail employees, StaffSafe®’s team of experts and the emergency services to Intervene, Interact and Assure. Unlike alarm receiving centres, StaffSafe®’s team is on hand 24 hours a day to take control, diffuse conflict and support exactly when help is needed. Knowing that help is immediately on hand increases staff well-being, gives them a greater feeling of appreciation and helps them to return as quickly as possible, should they be involved in any incidents.

Contact Paul Cullinan, via his LinkedIn page, if you’re available for a chat today.