Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 9 April 2020

Please stay at home and maintain distance from others' is not the usual message I would share in advance of an Easter Bank Holiday, however as we are all aware, these are anything but usual times.

We are almost at our third weekend under a lockdown, and I want to take this opportunity to ask you to please follow Government guidance this holiday weekend, remain at home and keep safe. We have seen poeple all over the country, and here in Renfrewshire, continue to get together with freinds and family and flock to parks and popular destinations. Please let's all do our bit to support our social care colleagues and the NHS by remaining close to home and finding different ways to stay in touch with people we car about this Easter.

The challenge we are responding to nationally and here in Renfrewshire continues to develop quickly, with new guidance being issued daily. I am very grateful for your commitment to adjusting to a different way of living, and at the same time continuing to deliver essential services and protect the most vulnerable. This week our focus has been on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our staff, bolstering our supply of PPE for teams who require this, and providing the best possible assistance to local people and families, who need support to remain healthy and well.

I would like to thank everyone who has shareed our local assistance helpline number - 0300 300 0230 - with frineds, family and service users, so that people who have been asked to 'shield' or quarantine for 12 weeks, can get access to essential supplies. We have already received over 400 calls and I am delighted to say that food and medicine delivery is well underway. If you know someone who might still need help, please pass on our number.

Almost all our service delivery is being supported by blended teams from across the council and partners Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership and Renfrewshire Leisure, who have come together almost overnight. This has required us to do things differently and deliver new servcies - like providing food and medicines to those in need or at risk of serious illness. None of this could be achieved without the expertise and skills of people from all services - our call centre, ICT, catering teams, building services, transport, waste and cleaning staff, housing staff, procurement teams, social work and care teams - to name but a few. This list is long, and everyone plays a vital role. I would also like to highlight the support we are receiving from our Trade Union partners.

Most of our schools have now entered the Easter holidays, and I want to thank our teachers, who have continued to provide a fantastic level of support and online learning for pupils over recent weeks. They will be back online on Monday 20 April, much to the relief of many parents. I am very pleased that we were able to share information from SQA with parents of S4 to S6 pupils, due to sit exams next month, and provide an update on alternative arrangements being put in place. We will be doing everything to make sure our young people achieve the results they deserve.

The teams operating our childcare hubs have received incredible praise from parents and carers who rely on the facilities, and they will remian open throughout the holidays enabling key workers in Renfrewshire to continue to carry out essential work. Many thanks to everyone who makes sure our bases are open, safe and clean, and the children have great fun, remain active and enjoy a healthy lunch.

I am aware that many of you will continue to work through the bank holiday to get services, help and support to people across Renfrewshire. I am also aware that colleagues will have had to cancel and postpone holiday plans due to the lockdown and restrictions on travel. If you are able, please try to take some annual leave. The work taking place to respond to this crisis is remarkable. It is very important that everyone can recharge and look after their wellbeing. For those of you who are not able to take a break just yet, please stay safe at work or at home, and remember annual leave can be carried in to next year and the following, so no one will miss out.

I would also like to wish colleagues who are unwell and experiencing the symptoms of Coronavirus a speedy recovery. This is an anxious time for people who become unwell and I want you to know that the council is here to support you. If you develop a high temperature or a new persistent cough, please follow stay at home advice right away. Make sure you also contact your manager who will notify the HR helpline. For those who have returned from a period of absence, I am delighted to have you back, safe and well.

Finally, I'd like to wish you all a peaceful Easter. I know that communities across Renfrewshire will be very grateful for the reassurance, commitment and support that our teams continue to bring.

Thank you and please stay safe and well.

Sandra