Equality and accessibility

Equality and access for customers

Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) manages waste and recycling services for Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset and West Somerset District Councils, Taunton Deane Borough Council and Somerset County Council.  

This includes collection, recycling and disposal services for almost 250,000 homes in Somerset and access to the 14 recycling centres and two community recycling sites in the county.

We recognise that the diversity of such a large population means that adjustments must be made to allow access to the service for all. The main ways we ensure our services are accessible are as follows: 

Assisted collections are available to residents who find it difficult to take their containers to the road for their scheduled collections. This may be due to frailty or physical impairments. This service allows them to leave their containers at an agreed point on their property. The crew will then go on to their property to collect their waste and return the empty containers to the collection point.

This is promoted on our website and in service information when there are major service changes. To get the service customers should contact their local council customer services, briefly explain their circumstances and agree a place where their containers can be left. We may get in touch from time to time to check the service is still required. There is no additional charge for providing an assisted collection.

If there is a genuine need, residents of Somerset can contact their local council customer services and request a larger bin, or more waste stickers. These requests are passed to Somerset Waste Partnership for assessment. Extra refuse capacity can be provided for a range of specified reasons, for example:

  • Where sanitary waste is produced, either as a result of a child in nappies or adult incontinence.
  • Where the resident finds it difficult to understand and manage the recycling services, perhaps because of episodes of mental ill health or physical disability.
  • Where there is a large number of people living in the household.

Somerset’s recycling centre and community recycling site staff are trained to be watchful for, or respond to, requests from people who may find it difficult to load or unload their waste. They will assist with any materials, in reasonable amounts, apart from handling asbestos. (Most asbestos presented by the public is cement bonded and presents a very low hazard, but low risks are compounded with the degree of exposure, so site staff are instructed to minimise contact).

Weekly clinical waste collections are available for people who, for instance, use hypodermic needles or produce medical waste. There is no additional charge for collecting this waste. Clinical waste collections can be requested by contacting your local council customer services.

All our service information can be translated to other languages on request. Information is also made available in large print, Braille and audio formats. These options are promoted on all our printed literature.

There is a formal assessment process that allows us to analyse any potential service changes and understand the impact they may have on people who are within any of the Protected Characteristic groups in Somerset. Somerset County Council, as the administrating authority of SWP, publishes these on their website.

Understanding our customers

We use a variety of ways of better understanding our customers’ needs.

The Somerset Intelligence network (SINE), along with Inform Somerset, is an excellent resource for understanding the nature and circumstances of local populations in Somerset. The information available through SINE has been extremely valuable in helping us understand the impact of changes. These helped us understand and offset the challenges presented to local people when shorter opening hours were introduced at our recycling centres.

Customers can provide feedback on their waste services through any of our partner authority customer service centres. This feedback is logged in a structured manner, making it possible to analyse the data and highlight strengths and weaknesses of the services. We can use this information to look at trends in the number of missed collection complaints, for example the number of assisted collections missed by the collection crews in any given period.

 

SWP will use the evidence available to it about the equalities impacts of services when formulating proposals and recommendations to the Somerset Waste Board for decision.

This will be reflected in an assessment of equalities implications, which is included in all reports to the Board as part of the decision-making process.

Evidence of equalities performance will be included in periodic reports to the Board.