Commonwealth Office reveals strangest requests

 The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has revealed some of the most unusual enquiries Brits have made while abroad. 

A request for a haggis cooking Scottish chef was made.
A request for a haggis cooking Scottish chef was made.

Last year the FCO’s contact centres received more than 365,000 calls from British nationals and while the vast majority were calls from people who needed genuine help, there were many bizarre requests.

FCO said such enquiries stem from a lack of understanding of what FCO consular teams can do for British nationals overseas.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister, David Lidington, said it is important for FCO consular staff to be able to focus on our most vulnerable customers, “such as victims of crime, those who have lost a loved one abroad or people who have been detained or hospitalised overseas”.

“Consular staff support thousands of British nationals who encounter difficulties overseas every year and we handle over 365,000 enquires annually,” he continued.

“We will always try to help where we can but there are limits to what we can do, so it’s important for people to be aware of how we can help.”

Recent research revealed that the number of people who have knowledge of what embassies and consulates do has dropped to the lowest in three years among young people (aged 16-24), from 62% in 2011 to 55% in 2014.

 Strangest requests: 

  • A caller asking for help with setting up ‘British-style’ hanging baskets at a trade show because the professional gardener hired for the purpose had stage fright

 

  • A British woman asking the consulate in Albania how to find out if her son’s fiancée was already married

 

  • A caller asking for advice on how to treat a cat’s infected paw

 

  • A man called requesting that staff at the Embassy in Mexico City go to the airport to check whether he had left his mobile phone on a plane

 

  • A woman in Italy calling to enquire how she could synchronise her TV antenna to receive English channels

 

  • An event coordinator in Brussels asking for the name of a Scottish chef based in the country who could make Haggis for a Burns Night event
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