A MAJOR bank has launched an initiative to help branch staff in Wales learn or brush up on their Welsh language skills.

HSBC UK said the move will enable customers to converse with members of staff in Welsh if they wish to.

The initiative will tap into the skills and knowledge of fluent Welsh speakers in the bank, as well as using online Government resources produced in Wales to promote and facilitate the use of the language.

The bank is also working to ensure any new signage in branches in Wales is in Welsh first, and that it can offer brochures and customer literature in Welsh.

Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK’s head of branch network, said: “We are extremely proud to have kept the Welsh language alive within our business in Wales.

“It is great to see use of the Welsh language become more prevalent in recent times, and as a service provider we are excited by the opportunity to engage more in Welsh, formalising the support we are able to give our customers across Wales.

“We want to give any customers wanting to speak Welsh that option, and I am pleased to see over 50 branch colleagues are working on improving their Welsh language skills to make that happen, with more colleagues expressing an interest in doing the same.

“If there isn’t a Welsh speaker available at that moment in the branch, we will arrange for the customer to receive a call back to converse in Welsh.

“With customers often preferring to deal with many significant life events in person, especially with sensitive and emotional topics like bereavement, this additional support could make a great deal of difference to customers in need.”

North Wales Chronicle: HSBC. Credit: PAHSBC. Credit: PA

HSBC UK said the origins of its business in Wales can be traced back to 1762, when the Banc y Llong (or Ship Bank) was founded in Aberystwyth The banking firm eventually became part of Midland Bank, which in turn became part of HSBC in the 1990s.

Mathew Thomas, hybu (promotion) officer at the Welsh Language Commissioner’s office, said: “Research shows that customers value the opportunity to use Welsh with banks, and we’ve seen that business leaders see the language as an advantage when trading in Wales.

“We welcome this initiative which will give HSBC customers increased opportunities to use the Welsh language when dealing with the bank.

“Being able to speak Welsh is a valuable lifelong skill that HSBC colleagues will find beneficial, not only when serving customers, but in social circles as well.

“Learning a language takes time, and we encourage all Welsh-speaking HSBC customers to support the staff by giving them the opportunity to practice the language in branches.”