UPU guide underscores value of postal social services for citizens and governments

In Cameroon, students living in remote areas could not easily access school textbooks, which were often sold at inflated prices. CAMPOST stepped in to sell the textbooks at the government-designated price. The margin allowed the post to cover its costs and make a profit.

Over in Japan, for 2,500 JPY (19 euros) per month, a postal worker will visit a senior citizen for half an hour once a month to help combat the negative health effects of isolation and loneliness, among other check-up services.
These are just two examples of the more than 400 social services offered by posts around the world, according to the UPU’s new Guide to Postal Social Services released on 29 April 2021.
The guide states, “These social services generate value for citizens, Posts and governments, and there is considerable scope for their expansion.”
Given the connection of posts with people’s quality of life, and the broad argument for offering social services, the guide says, the UPU launched the first-of-its-kind research project to understand the role posts play in providing social services.
The UPU surveyed members, conducted desktop research and collected case studies to generate the guide. The project was generously sponsored by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan.
Responses were gathered between December 2019 and February 2020, and 113 UPU members provided responses, with 89 (79%) reporting that they offered some type of social service, and 59% intend to offer new services. Through the questionnaires and other research, the project identified 435 examples of postal social services from 160 UPU member countries and territories.
The guide highlights how posts can position themselves to offer solutions for citizens’ needs in health, education, community connection, access to government services, utilities and technology.
The guide is broken down into five distinct chapters that cover global societal challenges, such as inequality and ageing that call for social services. The guide offers an overview of social services currently being offered by posts in various areas of need, including health and technology; provides examples of how posts have committed to social services; sets out ideas for postal strategies and risk management; and notes opportunities for posts to identify and develop new social services.
“This guide aims to make the variety of existing postal social services more visible, and to support greater diversification and innovation in this area,” said Siva Somasundram, Director of Policy, Regulation and Markets.