Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 16 October 2020

With most of our schools on their midterm break, I hope many of you have managed to take some annual leave and spend quality time away from work, as we adjust to new national and local restrictions. I want to thank our school teams, including our teachers and support staff, our cleaning, catering and transport teams who have worked really hard to provide a safe and supportive learning experience for our children and young people in very challenging circumstances.

I would also like to highlight the exemplary work by schools and our Environmental Health team to support NHS Test and Protect and keep schools safe throughout the term. The return to school and nursery was an important milestone in Renfrewshire's recovery and I am very grateful for everything you have done to make the process as positive as possible for our learners and their families.

Sadly, this week and for the past few weeks we have seen a steady increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions across the country. I am truly grateful to our colleagues working in care homes and providing care services, for their ongoing dedication to protect and care for our most vulnerable residents, especially as we see the number of cases in Renfrewshire rise. In response to the national figures, and with winter fast approaching the Scottish Government has introduced a series of new restrictions for Scotland with tighter restrictions in areas where the infection rate is highest, including here in Renfrewshire. The new restrictions will remain in place until 26 October and at that time, are likely to be replaced with a tiered approach to managing the virus.

For now, here in Renfrewshire and across the Central Belt the restrictions include closure of all licenced premises, except for cafes, who will be able to open between 6am-6pm and takeaway services. Other restrictions include no outdoor live events or indoor group exercise classes and the closure of all snooker/pool halls, indoor bowling and bingo halls. The current meeting rules - a maximum of six people from two households, continues to apply. I would ask all colleagues to please be aware of the restrictions and how they impact on you and your family. It is important we all do everything we can to stay safe and avoid further infection in our community.

New guidance on the use of face coverings in workplaces was announced by the First Minister yesterday, meaning that from today colleagues must wear a face covering if using a workplace canteen, unless seated for lunch - following the same rules as those in place for public cafes and restaurants. The wearing of face coverings will also be required more widely within workplaces from Monday and more information on what this means for council premises will follow later today. You can read more about the national restrictions and local restrictions on the council website: http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/article/10707/Coronavirus-COVID-19-updates-and-staff-news

I also want to highlight a number of new initiatives to help our communities and businesses cope with the impact of living and working with COVID-19. To assist people who are having to self-isolate, we are managing the local introduction of Scottish Government's £500 self-isolation support grant for people on low incomes and ensuring we support those who fit the criteria to claim the grant, and this week we launched a Renfrewshire self-isolation support line for those needing help to access food and medicine. From Tuesday we will be opening our discretionary business hardship fund to support local businesses remain open and a COVID-19 Restrictions Fund to help those traders forced to close due to the new, tighter restrictions.

With the clocks set to go back next week, preparations for winter are well underway and this year as part of our Ready for Winter campaign we are encouraging all colleagues to get a flu vaccination. If you haven't done already, please check if you are eligible for the NHS national programme and if not, you can access the council programme here.

I really enjoyed hearing from some of our colleagues yesterday, as we marked World Values Day 2020 and reflected on the challenge of the last seven months and how our values have shaped our experience. I hope you have been able to watch the videos and read the blogs, and I think many of the comments sum up how most of us have felt during the crisis. I am very struck by how our collective response has given people strength and focus, and I remain extremely proud of how we are working together to deliver for our communities and support each other as this crisis continues.

And finally, I'd like you all to join me in making and sharing your World Values Day pledge. As you can see from my photo I selected 'collaboration' and have promised to work with our communities and partners across Renfrewshire as one team, to build a great place to live, learn and work. To join me, simply choose one of our values and pledge to do one thing that will make a difference to your working life, take a selfie and send it to internalcommunications@renfrewshire.gov.uk, post on Yammer, upload it to your own social accounts and tag @RenCouncil and #WorldValuesDay

Please stay safe and continue to follow FACTS.

Have a great weekend.

Sandra.