Signing up to an inclusive welcome at Jersey’s Ports

Pictured – Emma Lawrence from JCCT teaching Makaton to Ports of Jersey staff

The Jersey Child Care Trust is working with Ports of Jersey to help make air and sea travel easier for passengers with communication needs.

Our special needs support and development co-ordinator, Emma Lawrence, is training 30 Ports of Jersey staff in Makaton so that they can use symbols and signs, alongside speech, to help provide the best experience for passengers going through Jersey’s harbours and the Airport.

Emma has recently qualified as a Makaton trainer, having worked for the Trust since 2014. She said: ‘I joined the Trust at a support worker and learning the Makaton signs really interested me. When I was supporting a child with Down’s Syndrome, my skills really took off. She was learning new Makaton signs all the time so I had to work hard to make sure I could keep up with her.

‘Makaton uses signs with speech to help provide extra clues about what is being said, helping children and adults with limited speech to connect with others.

‘The students from my course were from across the UK and some were from schools, nurseries and organisations that are Makaton-friendly accredited, which means staff are Makaton-trained and public areas are Makaton-accessible, making it easier for those living with learning and communication difficulties.

‘We have seen a significant increase in the number of children experiencing communication difficulties, which can impact in other areas of their development.

‘Becoming a Makaton trainer means I can now train others in Makaton. The course I will be delivering to Ports of Jersey staff will be a bespoke to their needs and should make visitors to the Harbour and the Airport feel welcome and included. ‘

Ports of Jersey corporate and social responsibility manager Leanne Bass said: ‘As a major Channel Island business, we aim to to go beyond providing the lifeline services of moving people and freight in and out of Jersey. We pride ourselves in our central position in the community and are committed to making a positive difference to Island life.

‘Our ports are here for everyone, and we strive to offer a journey where everyone is welcomed and valued, so we have taken the step of training our people to provide excellent customer service for every passenger, including those who may need some help to communicate.

‘By training our customer service teams in Makaton, we are aiming to ensure we can communicate effectively with everyone and provide a great travel experience for all our passengers.’

After the course, videos of participants doing 20 key signs will be shared with other staff, including firefighters and security personnel, so that they can also welcome and assist Makaton users at Jersey’s harbours and the airport.

Emma said that the training for Ports of Jersey staff was just the beginning of making the Island a more Makaton-friendly place.

‘The Jersey Child Care Trust will be promoting Makaton courses to the early years’ workforce in the autumn term, and we then plan to encourage the wider children’s workforce to take up training.

‘We hope that by introducing Makaton across the Island, we will be able to help individuals who struggle to communicate to feel more welcome and included within our community, just like everyone else. ‘

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