Confused callers look up to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for advice on bizarre issues ranging from how to get illegal employment in Singapore to how to recruit a butler in Lebanon, it has been revealed.
The FCO has released details of ten weirdest consular calls it has received in the past year, as a reminder to the public that they should only look to use its services for genuine emergencies.
The calls included:
· A lady in Lebanon looking for help to recruit an English butler
· A holidaymaker trying to find Travel Advice for a visit to Coventry
· A European filmmaker looking for an English pensioner to play a part in his new film
· A woman who was disappointed the British Embassy has not sent someone to give her a tour of St. Petersburg on her arrival in Russia
· A British man asking for assistance to get illegal employment in Singapore
· A mother asked for contact details of a young British YouTuber, as her son was a fan of his Minecraft videos
· A confused businessman looking for information on the construction of plug sockets
· A man planning to move to Spain who was worried he would encounter nudists walking through the streets
· A man in South Korea asking what he could do with his old pound notes
· A homesick expat asking where he could buy English meat
James Duddridge, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, said: “Our consular staff are a helpful bunch and do an amazing job helping out Brits in trouble around the world – but it is important that people remember they are there to help with genuine emergencies and not as an alternative to directory enquiries. Every minute they spend handling a call requesting advice on butlers or YouTubers is time taken away from dealing with life and death cases, so I urge the public to think before picking up the phone.”
Latest FCO figures show that over the last year almost half a million calls were made to its consular service –which provides emergency help to Britons in trouble overseas.
The vast majority were from people with genuine requests and the FCO assisted with numerous cases, helping 3,250 Brits who were hospitalised, 4,770 who were arrested, and the families of 3,670 who died overseas. Almost 38,000 replacement travel documents were issued.
FCO staff are able to support Brits abroad in many ways – including arranging to visit Brits in hospital or in prison, advising on how to transfer money and helping those caught up in crisis situations. However, recent research* revealed that almost three quarters of Brits (74 per cent) thought the FCO could get them out of jail if they were arrested, almost a quarter (22 per cent) thought the FCO could arrange for them to get home if they lost their ticket and 15 per cent presumed the FCO would lend them money if theirs was lost or stolen.
Kelvin Green, Head of FCO’s Global Contact Centres, said: “We receive thousands of calls a year, and do all we can to help people who find themselves in difficulty abroad. But we cannot help people make travel arrangements or lifestyle plans, lend them money or pay medical and other bills for them.”