Renfrewshire Council

Open Letter to staff and partners from Renfrewshire Council Chief Executive, Sandra Black

We have all watched the dramatic unfolding of the global response to the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Here in Renfrewshire we are seeing significant changes to our daily lives and how we manage and run our council services. I want to take the opportunity to fully express how grateful I am to council staff for their support and resilience during what is an unprecedented challenge for us all.

I fully understand that many of you will be feeling very worried about the impact of the virus. This affects all of us - families, communities and businesses, our health and our livelihoods.

While the Scottish and UK Governments continue to oversee the national response, I want to assure you that the council will be doing all it can - with our partners, to help keep you, and the local people who depend on us, safe and well. That is our priority.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who works for Renfrewshire Council for supporting the changes we have made to how we work in response.

The main change announced by Government that has directly impacted staff, involves advice on restricting the movement of people where possible. This applies especially to people who are over 70, those who are pregnant or have underlying health problems. The advice is to reduce social contact and where possible, work from home.

Please be assured we are working hard to support home working where we can and keep services operating. If you think you are affected by an 'at risk' category, please contact your manager to discuss what working arrangements can be adapted.

I also want to extend my thanks to everyone within this category who has expressed a wish to continue to come to work. I really appreciate this response and I am sorry that you are having to remain at home while we look for ways to help you carry out your role in a different way or to find alternative duties.

If you are already working from home, or absent from work, it is important that you keep in touch regularly, and we can keep you updated as the situation changes.

The most recent announcement from Scottish Government to close schools and nurseries across Scotland will impact many of you. The management team and I fully appreciate the additional pressure this creates for parents and carers. We have been working tirelessly to consider the implications of this, given the length of closure, and to provide solutions and flexibility for our staff and our school communities. The response from our teachers to continue support us has been overwhelming, and many teams within the council have offered their support. Thank you for this.

I am confident that by working together, we will be able to run essential services and support staff to work differently and balance childcare. This will take flexibility and planning for us all. Please bear with us as we work through all the options and contact your manager if this impacts on you.

I also ask that everyone takes some time to consider staff who cannot work from home and are continuing to keep critical frontline services moving. To those staff across the council and Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership, and their families, I extend my deepest gratitude. Please be assured we are looking at every possible way to wrap extra resource around you and to keep you safe at work.

The challenge we are managing is changing daily and will take ongoing, detailed planning. Our collective response - with health and the emergency services, must be driven by equal degrees of resilience and kindness. Key to that is being mindful and considerate of others and checking that colleagues, friends, family and neighbours are coping.

I am confident that we will manage through this and I will continue to do everything I can to protect the safety and wellbeing of our staff and local people.

Thank you and please stay safe and well.

Yours sincerely,

Sandra Black