A woman who lost her sight when she was a teenager is believed to be the UK’s first blind personal banker.
Andrea Salt, who lives in Cardiff, works for NatWest as an associate personal banker at the city’s Queen Street branch. Accompanied by her guide dog Edie, she helps customers using a specially adapted braille computer.
The 26-year-old, who is originally from Stockport, was born partially sighted and began to completely lose her sight when she was only 18. She is also severely deaf and uses hearing aids in both of her ears.
She joined the bank in December 2017 on a 12-month fixed-term contract and is assisted in her role by a NatWest support worker who helps with visual tasks such as verifying a customer’s proof of identity.
NatWest, which is rated Gold for its work as an inclusive employer by the Business Disability Forum, employs a number of visually impaired people; however Andrea is the first blind member in its team to be appointed as an associate personal banker. She is believed to be the only person with a disability of this kind to work in a personal banking role at any UK bank.
“I’ve always wanted to work in a bank helping customers so to be given this opportunity with NatWest is something that means the world to me. They have been fantastic in supporting me in the role and it’s wonderful to be able to do a job I love helping the hundreds of customers that visit the branch every week.
“The staff have been so welcoming and it’s really rewarding being part of a team supporting so many people. Edie enjoys being here too though she does tend to spend most of her time asleep behind my counter!”
Branch manager Sandy James said:
“From day one Andrea has been part of the team and grown to become a real asset to our branch. She is warm and engaging with our customers and always willing to go the extra mile in supporting her colleagues. She’s helped make a real difference to the team and does not let her disability stand in her way, which is inspiring to us all.”
Marjorie Strachan, NatWest Head of Inclusion, said: “We believe passionately that no one should be excluded or marginalised from the workplace because of a disability. Andrea is a shinning example of a colleague who has brought so much to the team she works with and the customers she supports.
“We are very proud to employ a diverse workforce of people who all contribute to our efforts to support our customers and we hope that Andrea’s story is an inspiration to others.”
John Dixon, Employment Manager for RNIB Cymru, said: “We hope that other employers will follow NatWest’s lead, and benefit both from the creativity, empathy and problem-solving skills that blind and partially sighted people have, and from the commercial advantages that retaining a diverse workplace, that truly reflects society, offers.”