Council staff switch roles to help Coronavirus response

More than 90 staff at South Kesteven District Council have switched from their regular roles to help ensure essential services continue and vital support is available to vulnerable residents during the Coronavirus crisis.

Many have received additional training and have stepped up to help with services from waste collection to community support that people rely on.

SKDC Leader, Cllr Kelham Cooke, said: "Coping with Covid-19 has also meant dramatically increased hours for many of our staff, with little respite.

"Some have also been redeployed to support critical services - from staffing the SK Community Hub to helping vulnerable residents through our Befriending Service, and training as waste collection loaders and drivers so that our streets remain clean and our bins are emptied.

"Importantly, this redeployment happened swiftly and smoothly, starting with the establishment of an incident room and two emergency planning teams with clear roles and responsibilities.

"Our staff are going above and beyond and continue to deliver a very high level of service. It has been great to see how much the public appreciate key workers, such as our refuse collectors."

A 16-strong team working in the hugely successful Community Hub have been redeployed there from other areas. The hub has been contacted 1,600 times, providing help when and where vulnerable residents need it most and co-ordinating the work of 1,500 volunteers across the district.

The hub also provides a befriending service offering support and regular contact to those who have found themselves isolated by lockdown restrictions. Almost 300 residents are now receiving weekly telephone calls.

Julie Ashworth, SKDC's Parks and Events Community Engagement Officer, is part of the team. "Some of the calls we receive are difficult but it is so nice to be able to help people," she said.

"In my regular role I am used to building relationships and making people feel at ease and those skills have proved very useful in the hub. Every member of the team does their utmost to help those who contact us. It has been a very positive experience."

Housing officer Robin Atter is another able to put their skills and experience to good use. Robin already held an HGV driver's licence and when the call went out for staff who could help in other areas of council work he put himself forward.

"I have the licence but hadn't driven an HGV since taking up my housing role six years ago," he said.

After 35 hours of training Robin achieved his Certificate of Professional Competence and is now on stand-by to drive a waste collection wagon - playing his part in ensuring the full service of black, silver, green and food bin collections is maintained.