Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 5 June 2020

I hope this week has given you the opportunity to spend some time outdoors and catch up with family and friends following the easing of some lockdown measures. I understand just how difficult it has been to adjust to the profound changes to how we live and work and be apart from the people we care about most.

Having a little more freedom to reconnect provides some hope and peace of mind, so thank you to everyone who has helped to make this happen by supporting the national response either on the frontline or by staying home.

That sense of optimism continues, as the number of deaths due to Coronavirus falls for a fifth consecutive week. And although this will be little comfort for those who are grieving, fragile progress is being made. That's why it's still so important we continue to stay at home where possible, follow the guidance and do everything we can to support those still battling the illness or are having to remain in isolation, and to make sure no more families suffer the heartbreak of losing a loved one to this virus.

While we are still fighting a public health crisis, we must also tackle the social and economic harm caused by lockdown. You may have seen the announcement this week that Rolls-Royce is expected to cut 700 jobs at its plant here in Renfrewshire, as part of wider cost reduction measures across the global company. This is terrible news, especially at this time, for many local families. I want to assure you that we are contacting Rolls Royce and working with Government and national agencies to see what we can do to support those affected.

Please take some time to find out more about the national Test and Protect programme and what you can do to support efforts to reduce the rate of infection and help restart the economy. This will play an important role in our recovery as an organisation and as a community. Everything you need to know is included in the , issued today. The information explains what to do if you or someone you live with becomes unwell with Coronavirus symptoms, or if you are contacted by an NHS contact tracer and asked to isolate. As soon as you become unwell, please make sure you stay home, arrange a test and contact your manager so that we can get you the right support and advice. If you receive a call from a Tracer, please let us know and we can support you to remain safely at home.
 
It has been lovely to mark #VolunteerWeekScotland at a time when our communities are sharing remarkable stories of kindness from neighbours, local groups and businesses and our colleagues. The response from colleagues across the council to adapt to the most challenging of circumstances, step into new roles and work in different ways has been outstanding and it is very clear how much our communities have valued your commitment and support. 
 
A shining example of this is our Local Assistance Helpline launched in the first few weeks of the crisis to support people without a friends or family support network and have ben advised to shield. The Helpline has received over 6,000 calls and arranged almost 250,000 deliveries of supplies such as food, medicine and toiletries to households across Renfrewshire and vital access to mental health and wellbeing services. I am very grateful to colleagues deployed to the helpline from services across the council, who have provided friendship and help to people at their most vulnerable.
 
This week saw the restart of some council and Renfrewshire Leisure services as we moved into phase 1 of the Scottish Government's road map out of lockdown. I want to thank everyone involved for their advance planning and collaboration. Our grass cutting services have resumed, we have opened golf, tennis and outdoor bowling, and welcomed almost 5,000 cars to our HWRCs. These are important steps in building local confidence and demonstrating our commitment to safety. The feedback we've received from residents highlights just how much they value the work of your teams.
 
I would also like to welcome back our schools and nurseries teams who are preparing for the safe return of some of our pupils later this month. I want to thank each one of you for making sure children starting their school journey have the chance to say a final farewell to their nursery classes and our P7s can mark the transition from primary to high school. The commitment to recognising these milestones means so much to the children and their families.
 
And finally, as we support each other through this pandemic and watch an international outpouring of grief following the tragic events in the United States, it has never been more important to reflect on our personal and corporate commitment to fairness and equality. What started in America, has shone a spotlight on a global issue and the responsibility we all have to address it. There is no place for racism and intolerance in our society and we all have a part to play to stop it. As a council we are built on strong values of fairness, helpfulness and treating everyone with kindness and respect. It's never been more important to ensure we all live and work by these values in everything that we do. And as I reflect on the past 12 weeks of lockdown, the spirit of our values has shone through the darkest of times.
 
Thank you for continuing to make a difference every day.
 
Stay safe and have a peaceful weekend.
 
Sandra